|Lorraine at 2018 Indiana conference with fellow New Yorker,|
Suzanne Bachner, playwright,The Good Adoptee
Both commodify a woman's body as a product to be sold, bartered, rented, call it anything you want, it offers for sale the use of a woman's body. If the surrogacy is unpaid--except for the expenses of the procedure itself and the birth of the baby--it's not quite the same. Family members--even mothers for their daughters, sisters for siblings--sometimes have offered to become impregnated with related DNA as sperm or egg or embryo and carry a fetus to term. I have no objection to that.
But the paying for the use of a woman's womb, and having her incur all the medical challenges of pregnancy and birth, changes everything. It takes advantage of impoverished women as well as students facing enormous college costs their families can ill afford. In fact, the better the school one is attending--think Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the like--and the fee can skyrocket to $200,000.
|This isn't about surrogacy|
per se, but it covers the
same issues for the children.
You read that right.
Poverty and money force women into this inhumane practice. Until recently, India was a hothouse of surrogacy where "fertility tourism" was an industry that brought in $400 million a year. Poor women from outlying villages could make enough money for their families to buy a house. Videos of the horrid and cramped conditions the women lived in while pregnant gave the country a bad name, and the government acted. In most of Europe, paid surrogacy--just as paying for sperm--is outlawed.
While adoptee rights in New York seem to be in no one's sights in the legislature right now--at least to judge in press reports datelained Albany where there is not a single mention of them--paid legal surrogacy has grabbed Gov. Andrew Cuomo's attention. This morning I had an email from him--sign up on his contact page and you will get missives from him too--urging me to support LGBTQ rights, and part of that package is to legalize paid gestational surrogacy.
Our issue of adoptee rights somehow runs smack into this miasma of murky bioethics, the business of making babies for profit. Why so? Because gay and lesbians who wish to have children need outside help to make it happen. And that is where the exploitation of poor women enters the picture.
|Excellent history of the tangled,|
tortured route of sealed records.
I consult it frequently.
And one staunch opponent of adoptee-rights legislation (Assemblyperson Deborah Glick, also gay, also from NYC) is strongly opposed to legalizing surrogacy in New York. "I'm not certain that, considering the money involved, that this is an issue for the broader LGBTQ community," she said. "This is clearly a problem for the extraordinarily well-heeled." Well said, Ms. Glick.
What is the most infuriating part about the surrogacy issue is that it shows how adoptee rights get swept under the rug, after all kinds of bills, commotion, committees and lobbies over the DECADES, while LGBTQ rights move forward in our "progressive" state. There is a week left on the legislative calendar in Albany. We have been cautiously optimistic but there are no rumblings of any kind of action yet. After our bill (S3419) passed in the Senate, we cheered.
But we wait and worry while the Assembly dithers. We have the votes for our legislation to pass in the Assembly, but it is held up by a few powerful legislators. Right now our bill (A5494) is in the Codes committee, a final stop before it reached the floor for a vote. Joe Lentol (Brooklyn, D) chairs that committee. He is against it, and unless the Governor pushes him, Lentol has the power to kill the bill for yet another year by simply letting it die in Codes. Yet we are confident we have the votes in that committee to pass it.
I want to scream.--lorraine
In other news related to our bill, here is a link to a piece I had last Friday in the Albany Times-Union.
and a link to a television spot on Channel 12, Long Island TV.
Please feel free to share widely.
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Surrogate Pregnancy Battle Pits Progressives Against Feminists
By Annette Baran
The psychology of donor insemination presents both problems and solutions. In the world of alternative means of conception, donor insemination is the parent procedure, the most available, successful and egalitarian. Breaking the bonds of silence and ending secrecy is necessary, the authors believe, to address the inherent psychological problems. As the world continues headlong down the road of high-tech procedures and methodologies, there is a need to maintain a strong sense of importance of the human element and historical, genetic connections.
Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption
By E. Wayne Carp
Carp has a lot of great information about adoption agencies' and social workers' policies concerning the release of birth and adoption information to adult adoptees. It was fascinating to see all the quotes regarding their acceptance of adoptees' desire for identifying information up until the 1950s or so.
...Those who want further insight into the issue of sealed versus open birth and adoption records, this book is not just a necessary read, but a necessary purchase.