A Womb’s Worth

When I heard Pope Francis called for the banning of surrogacy worldwide, I sighed.

The state of surrogacy

Surrogacy is not legal in Louisiana and Michigan (See Graph 1.)  The legality of surrogacy focuses primarily on the payment to the surrogate and parentage.  Lauen Danelowski examines the literature on reproductive labor.   She posits that if surrogacy were viewed as “work,” surrogates would be better positioned to claim economic rights, which could result in more equitable wages and reduce the stigmatization of surrogates.

Graph 1.  Surrogacy Status by State

You are the parent

In states where the legality of surrogacy contracts has obstacles or limitations, the legal parentage may not be straightforward.  The Center for Reproductive Rights, “2023 State Legislative Wrap-up State Policy Report: An overview of the state landscape,” summarizes key reproductive rights legislation.  According to the report, several bills were introduced to legalize payment to surrogates and/or establish parentage.  Idaho made it legal to compensate surrogacy.  Maine and Rhode Island streamlined the confirmatory adoption process. 

Nevada legislature passed a bill that provided a “uniform legal framework for establishing parent-child relationships” that is essential for parentage equity for nontraditional families and families formed utilizing assisted reproduction.  However, the governor vetoed the bill because it “decreased judicial discretion regarding critical issues to Nevadan families.”  It is hard to disagree with his decision because the data show that mandatory minimum sentencing has devastating consequences for people with low incomes, Blacks, and Hispanics.

The report noted that bereavement leave for a failed surrogacy agreement and other negative pregnancy outcomes was unable to pass in the states of Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

 This tweet by In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda says it best. 

This is a reminder!
This is what we’re fighting for in the new year, in case you forgot”