Cuomo Revives Push to Legalize Gestational Surrogacy in NY
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Credit: Cuomo's Flickr account

Gov. Andrew Cuomo revived his push on Tuesday to legalize paid gestational surrogacy in New York, which is one of only three states in the country that still has an outright ban on the practice.

The measure failed to pass during last year's legislative session after Democrats in the Assembly came out against it. Cuomo's seeking to strike a deal on the legislation this year.

“This antiquated law is repugnant to our values and we must repeal it once and for all and enact the nation's strongest protections for surrogates and parents choosing to take part in the surrogacy process,” Cuomo said.

“This year we must pass gestational surrogacy and expedite the second parent adoption process to complete marriage and family equality,” he continued.

Cuomo made the push the same day celebrities Andy Cohen and Michelle Buteau traveled to Albany to lend their support for the bill. Cohen recounted his own experience seeking a surrogate outside New York to have a child. Cohen is openly gay.

"I came to New York years ago so I could live my life openly, but I had to leave New York to start my family,” Cohen said. “New York has long been a leader in advancing the interests of women and the LGBTQ community, and it's time to keep that tradition alive by passing the Child-Parent Security Act.”

Legislation to legalize surrogacy in New York appeared poised to pass last year until Democrats in the Assembly came out against it, saying it would lead to the commercialization of women's bodies. Cuomo, and supporters of the bill, have disputed that prediction.

The legislation, as written, would allow women to be paid to carry a child for someone who physically can’t, like same-sex couples or individuals who’ve had trouble conceiving on their own.

Women who agree to act as surrogates would have certain protections under the law — like the right to an attorney and health insurance, both of which would be paid for by the parent or parents whose child they’re carrying.

Surrogates would also have full control over their health care choices, including the ability to terminate a pregnancy on the same terms as any other pregnant individual.

The legislation is sponsored by State Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat from Manhattan who’s also used a surrogate from another state to carry his children. He said Tuesday that Democrats in the Senate plan to pass the bill, but that questions remain about support in the Assembly.

“There’s strong conference support among Senate Democrats. Nothing has changed from last year in terms of cosponsors or a resolve to get it passed,” Hoylman said. “I think the question is the fact that it’s in the budget — and the Assembly.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, said last year that a majority of his members had concerns with the legislation as it was written. Some were opposed to the idea of gestational surrogacy outright, while others wanted additional protections enacted for women.