Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Executive Director Taina Bien-Aimé Responds to New York State’s Legalization of Reproductive Commercial Surrogacy
New York, April 3, 2020 – The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women’s Executive Director Taina Bien-Aimé has issued the following statement in response to language within the New York State Budget bill passed on April 2 that legalizes reproductive commercial surrogacy (RCS):
“The New York State Legislature, under relentless pressure by Governor Andrew Cuomo, passed a nearly 400-page state budget bill in the middle of the night on April 2. Buried in the Budget is language to legalize the harmful practice of reproductive commercial surrogacy.
Altruistic surrogacy is allowed in New York State. However, its commercialization was banned by the late Governor Mario Cuomo in 1998 when the New York State Task Force on Life and Law issued a report unanimously recommending that ‘public policy prohibit commercial surrogate parenting because it is harmful to the women whose bodies are used and the children they bear.’
Overturning this human rights-based decision will jeopardize the health and lives of disenfranchised women and the babies born from gestational surrogacy. This is a tragic day for women’s rights to health and equality.
This new RCS law will open the door to the exploitation of economically vulnerable women for the profit of a predatory reproductive technology industry in our state.
Since RCS is prohibited across Europe, as well as in China, India and various other countries, the Governor’s legalization of RCS will lead to reproductive tourism in New York, inviting wealthy elites from foreign countries to contract women’s wombs and purchase babies. Furthermore, as documented in other jurisdictions, the commercialization of surrogacy also leads to the trafficking and reproductive exploitation of women. When there is a market for women’s bodies, predators will always find ways to abuse vulnerabilities, bring in buyers and profit, particularly when this RCS law would provide no mechanisms to screen the ‘intended parents.’
We know there are health and exploitation risks to women associated with RCS because of what is occurring in other states and countries where it is legal. These surrogates’ stories were largely ignored in Albany’s halls of power.
Governor Cuomo and the legislature must take the time to reconsider this new law, which was passed without any room for public debates, legislative hearings and the opportunity for surrogate survivors to testify to the severe physical and psychological injuries gestational surrogacy has caused them. At a time of extreme crisis and vulnerability, it is shocking that New York would create more risks for our most marginalized populations to experience harm, exploitation and maternal mortality.”