Statement on start of legalized commercial surrogacy in NYS
Published on February 16th, 2021
On April 3, 2020, as the nation was in the early grips of the COVID-19 pandemic and the state was in complete lockdown, the New York State legislature passed its state budget for FY 2021. Buried in that 400-page document, passed at 3 a.m., was language legalizing commercial gestational surrogacy in the state. The dead-of-night move came after years of opposition to legalization by some feminist groups and the Catholic Conference because it exploits women, reducing their bodies to raw materials for the wealthy to create biological offspring, and exploits the children born of such arrangements, who are treated as commodities to be bought and sold.
Today, the legislation took effect legalizing these commercial arrangements, which in recent years have been banned in the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, much of Asia, and several countries in South America, precisely because the practice is exploitive and leads to trafficking of women and children.
“While commercial surrogate motherhood officially is now legal in New York State, we will likely not know the medical, psychological, legal and ethical ramifications of this new policy for years to come,” said Kathleen M. Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the Catholic Conference. “For certain, commercial surrogacy deliberately and completely separates children from at least one of their biological parents. It treats those children as made-to-order merchandise rather than priceless gifts from a loving God. It denigrates and exploits women, reducing them to nothing more than ‘hosts.’ It offends the dignity of women, children, family, and human reproduction.
“The Church needs to continue to educate our Catholic faithful about why we take the position we do: Surrogacy is immoral because it replaces the natural act of unitive and procreative love, within marriage, to achieve pregnancy. Our Church loves and empathizes with infertile couples, and supports medical interventions which assist the natural act of unitive/procreative love to achieve pregnancy, such as fertility drugs, surgery to overcome blocked tubes and other restorative reproductive medical measures.”
The Catholic Conference represents the Bishops of New York State in public policy matters.