WASHINGTON, D.C. — Altruistic, non-commercial surrogacy is often utilized to help LGBTQIA+ couples and women struggling with fertility to build their families. While this practice has the support of NOW, we caution against legalization of commercialized surrogacy, which is currently being considered in New York State Assembly.
Commercial surrogacy does not depend on the willing choice of friends or family to help loved ones, instead it relies on the commodification of women’s bodies. History has shown us that the buying, selling and renting of their bodies does great harm to women.
Altruistic surrogacy agreements rely fully on consent. Women choose to become surrogates solely on the condition that they want to help someone build their family and they are not forced to continue with surrogacy plans in order to make a living. But commercial surrogacy changes the reality of consent. Once for-profit agencies and large sums of money are involved, women may be drawn into surrogacy due to financial desperation, a choice made when there are no other choices.
Commercialized surrogacy industries in other countries have a reputation for coercing poor and vulnerable women into contracts. Even when protections exist, they are incredibly difficult to enforce. A steady supply of women’s bodies is needed in order to meet the demands of rich couples who can afford to pay extravagant fees to agencies.
Surrogacy is a complicated issue. Altruistic surrogacy should be legal and accessible in every state, but commercial surrogacy will do great harm to women, especially those in vulnerable populations.