Bad for Women and Children: The New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act

by The Center for Bioethics and Culture on May 29, 2012

Friends,

While many of you we hope were enjoying your Memorial Day weekend, we here at CBC were working hard to oppose a dreadful bill facing the state of New Jersey. The New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act is currently under consideration in the state’s legislature (S1599/ A2646) and would authorize gestational carrier agreements in the state.

A gestational carrier agreement is a written contract in which a woman agrees to carry and give birth to a child created using assisted reproduction on behalf of an intended parent. When the child is born, the intended parent becomes the legal parent of the child and the woman, who is called a ‘gestational carrier,’ has no parental rights or obligations.

When the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in the famous Baby M case, it declared that surrogacy contracts violate statutes and policies that protect the rights of mothers and children.

If passed, this bill will codify the commodification and exploitation of women and children. It ignores New Jersey’s bi-partisan Bioethics Commission report, which strongly condemned all forms of surrogacy. And it is being supported and pushed by surrogacy brokers who will benefit financially if surrogacy contracts become legally permissible.

I spoke with Wesley Smith, our special consultant, who told me this about the bill:

This bill crassly furthers the ongoing biotechnological agenda of redefining the living human body and its constituent parts as a mere natural resource. It also brings us back to the bad old days of the “wet nurse,” in which women of lower economic station were used by the well off in exploitive ways. Further, to use the term “gestational carrier,” as opposed to “birth mother,” or even “surrogate mother,” is dehumanizing and objectifies the women whose uteruses would be rented and health and emotional wellbeing potentially impacted in a deleterious manner to fulfill the desires of the well off. This bill would legalize exploitation of poor women for their procreative capacities.

I also reached out to Kathy Sloan, my colleague from NOW, who has been serving as a special consultant to CBC on matters addressing reproductive technologies. She immediately jumped in and offered her help to oppose the bill saying:

The mushrooming growth of surrogacy in this country along with permissive state legislation that fails to protect the health and prevent the exploitation of surrogates is an abomination of women’s human rights.  Women are already universally sexually commodified and now they are being reproductively commodified.  With constantly growing income inequality and poverty, women will increasingly be turned into breeding vessels for the financially privileged and their health and well-being dismissed or ignored.  The commercial use of women’s reproductive capabilities should be prohibited.  As developments in biotechnology facilitate the commodification of reproduction, alarm bells should be sounding about the new door that has been opened for yet further disregard and degradation of women’s humanity, wholeness, and physical and spiritual inviolability.  Simply put, if you care about women’s human rights, you cannot allow their exploitation and endangerment for someone else’s profit.

As someone who worked in pediatric nursing for two decades, I know how important the maternal-child bond is, and that this bonding begins way before birth of the baby. I shudder to think this bill would permit a situation that depends on a mother to NOT bond with her child, and then surrender that child at birth. This denies all that we have learned through adoption history and from the breaking of the maternal-child bond.

A press conference will be held Wednesday, May 30, by a coalition of citizens and citizen groups — including Kathy Sloan — who are concerned about this issue and bill.

May 30, 2012
1:30 PM
State House
Room 209
Trenton, NJ

What you can do today:

Call Governor Chris Christie (R) at (609) 292-6000
Call the New Jersey Senate President, Stephen Sweeney (D) at (856) 251-9801 or (856) 339-0808
Call the Speaker of the Assembly, Sheila Oliver (D) at (973) 395-1166

Tell them you oppose the New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act (S1599/ A2646) because it violates policies established in New Jersey to protect the rights of mothers and children.

Can I count on your support to help us?

Jennifer

PS: Your generosity will make a difference!

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