Testimony Regarding Gestational Surrogacy

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Following is testimony of the New York State Catholic Conference submitted in writing to a hearing of the Assembly Committee on Judiciary and Assembly Committee on Health regarding Gestational Surrogacy , 250 Broadway, New York, N.Y.

May 24, 2018

Chairman Dinowitz, Chairman Gottfried, and Honorable Members of the Assembly Judiciary and Health Committees, thank you for the opportunity to present testimony on the topic of compensated gestational carrier surrogacy contracts.

Currently, legislation (A.6959-A) is pending which would legalize commercial “gestational surrogacy,” or “collaborative reproduction,” which involves a monetary contractual arrangement whereby a woman who is genetically unrelated to the child, will bear that child for someone else, with the intent of relinquishing the child at birth. Human embryos are created in a laboratory through in vitro fertilization (IVF), using egg and sperm that may or may not be from the intended parents, then transferred to the uterus of the surrogate mother.

At the present time, New York Domestic Relations Law declares such surrogacy contracts to be contrary to public policy, void, and unenforceable. Baby brokers who assist in arranging such contracts are liable for up to a civil penalty of $10,000 and forfeiture of the fee received in brokering the contract; a second violation constitutes a felony. Importantly, this policy was signed into law in 1992 by then-Governor Mario M. Cuomo, at the unanimous recommendation of the NYS Task Force on Life and the Law, with bipartisan legislative support. The New York State Catholic Conference advocated for this policy in collaboration with the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women and other diverse voices.

In December of 2017 a deeply divided NYS Task Force on Life and the Law released a new report on surrogacy entitled “Revisiting Surrogate Parenting: Analysis and Recommendations for Public Policy on Gestational Surrogacy.” Fifteen of the members signed a majority report recommending a repeal of New York’s ban on commercial gestational surrogacy and a complex web of regulations governing the practice. Seven members signed a minority report recommending that New York’s ban be maintained. We concur with the minority and their well-documented report, attach it with this testimony, and urge that you read it in full. We summarize here the primary harms of surrogacy as detailed in that minority report. More

Testimony on Physician-Assisted Suicide Legislation

Testimony of the New York State Catholic Conference regarding the “Medical Aid in Dying Act” (A.2383-A / S.3151-A). Submitted by Edward T. Mechmann, Esq., Assembly Hearing Room, 19th Floor, 250 Broadway, New York, N.Y.

May 3, 2018

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Assembly, good afternoon. My name is Edward Mechmann, I am the Director of Public Policy of the Archdiocese of New York. I am grateful for the opportunity to testify on behalf of the Archdiocese and the New York State Catholic Conference, which is the public policy arm of the eight Catholic dioceses in New York State. I was the author of an amicus brief on behalf of the Catholic Conference in the Myers v. Schneiderman litigation. More

2018-19 Testimony on Women’s Agenda Article VII Legislation, S.7511 / A.9511

Testimony submitted by the New York State Catholic Conference to the Joint Legislative Hearing regarding the Health Care and Medicaid Budget, specifically about the Women’s Agenda Article VII Legislation (S.7511/A.9511) in the 2018-2019 Executive Budget.

February 12, 2018

Senator Young, Assembly Member Weinstein, and distinguished members of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committees:

This legislation seeks to enact a multi-faceted new “women’s agenda” which contains Parts A through M. We comment here on Part B of this legislation which the Executive states will “codify Roe v. Wade into state law to ensure that women can make personal healthcare decisions.” The Executive further states that enactment of Part B “is necessary to implement the FY 2019 Executive Budget.”

We disagree with the Executive’s analysis and strongly oppose Part B of this legislation. We find it to be a dangerous and unnecessary expansion of late-term abortion, and a leap into legalized infanticide. It should not be part of a budget proposal and it should not become law. We strongly urge you to oppose it.

Part B of this legislation is not a simple update of New York’s laws or codification of a court ruling. It would strip all mention of abortion from our state’s statutes, resulting in the following consequences. More

2018-19 Human Services Budget Testimony

Submitted by Michael A. Lawler, Director for Catholic Charities, New York State Catholic Conference, at the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing regarding the 2018-2019 Human Services Budget.

February 6, 2018

Senator Young, Assembly Member Weinstein, distinguished members of the Senate Finance Committee and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, ladies and gentlemen:

My name is Michael Lawler and I am the Director of Catholic Charities for the NYS Catholic Conference. Thank you for the opportunity to share our thoughts on the FY 2019 Executive Budget as it pertains to Human Services.

On January 16, 2018, the Executive Budget for FY 2019 was released and the NYS Council of Catholic Charities Directors were disappointed that critical investments for the nonprofit human services sector were not included in the proposed spending plan. As the NYS Legislature reviews the executive proposal and formulates its own priorities for FY 2019, we want to reiterate that these concerns for the vulnerable be addressed in the enacted spending plan. More

2018-19 Education Budget Testimony

Testimony of James D. Cultrara, director for education of the New York State Catholic Conference, at the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing regarding the 2018 – 2019 Elementary and Secondary Education Budget

January 31, 2018


Quality education is fundamental in ensuring a promising future for our children, families, communities and our economy. For more than 200 years, the state’s Catholic schools have been providing an outstanding education to thousands of our state’s children, many of whom are not Catholic. Especially in our inner cities, Catholic schools continue to help bring children out of poverty. Parents, however, are finding it increasingly difficult to shoulder the dual burden of taxes to support public schools while paying tuition to support the education of their own children. The decline in enrollment and the resulting closing of Catholic schools over the decades is no surprise. Little attention, however, has been paid to the added cost to taxpayers.

While the Catholic Bishops are continuously forced to make the extraordinarily difficult decisions to close Catholic schools, it must be noted that no Catholic school has closed due to academic failure. This is something that cannot be said about either traditional public or charter schools. Nor have our schools been closed due to lack of desire on the part of parents to enroll their children. The loss of Catholic schools in New York State comes down entirely to the rising costs and the inability of parents to pay the increasing tuition needed to meet those costs. This has been a tragedy for the state, for the parents of those children who are enrolled and those who wish they could be, and for the children themselves.

More than 75 Catholic schools across the state were forced to close in the past seven years.  More than 300 have closed in the last 20 years. Most of the displaced students then enroll in the already over-burdened public school system at a far greater cost to taxpayers. The shift of enrollment from private to public schools over the last 20 years has increased the cost to taxpayers by more than $2 billion – each and every year! Unless something meaningful is done to support the education of children in religious and independent schools, this trend will continue to exacerbate the burden on taxpayers. But even more importantly, more and more children will be denied the opportunity to escape poverty and have a brighter future that the remarkable success of Catholic schools offers. More

Testimony regarding Child Victims Act in Executive Budget

Testimony of the New York State Catholic Conference submitted to the Joint Legislative Hearing regarding the  2018-2019 Public Protection Budget, specifically about the Child Victims Act.

January 30, 2018

Senator Young, Assembly Member Weinstein, and distinguished members of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committees:

The Catholic Church has zero tolerance for sexual abuse and supports proposals in the New York State Legislature to extend the time allowed under the law to file criminal charges or civil lawsuits against those who abuse children.

Sexual abuse is a societal scourge. It knows no boundaries. Protecting children from sexual abuse and safeguarding the legal rights of victims requires a comprehensive approach. While the Catholic Conference strongly supports efforts to prospectively increase the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, legislation put forward in the Executive Budget is seriously flawed in that it contains a statute of limitations “window” to open up previously time-barred civil claims going back indefinitely against not only abusers themselves, but against their employers as well. The Catholic Conference strongly opposes this retroactive window. More