Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today launched the “Love Makes a Family” campaign to legalize gestational surrogacy and help support LGBTQ individuals and people struggling with fertility start families. The campaign will include the creation of the Love Makes a Family Council, as well as a petition where New Yorkers can endorse the Governor’s proposal, a new campaign website and video testimonials. This proposal was first advanced in the Governor’s FY 2020 Executive Budget, and was a key component of the Governor’s 2020 State of the State and FY 2021 Executive Budget.
“New York was the first big state to pass marriage equality, and we are a national leader on LGBTQ rights. It is shameful that we are only one of three states that does not allow LGBTQ individuals and people struggling with fertility to use gestational surrogacy to start families,” Governor Cuomo said. “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. This year we must pass gestational surrogacy and expedite the second parent adoption process to complete marriage and family equality.”
“All New Yorkers should have the access and opportunity to start and expand their family,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “New York led the way with marriage equality and establishing rights and protections for the LGBTQ community. It’s long overdue that we legalize gestational surrogacy and help all couples, including LGBTQ couples, struggling with fertility. We are committed to fighting for stronger protections for surrogates and parents and supporting families across the state as part of our overall efforts to establish full equality for all.”
Andy Cohen said, “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. 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. With the Love Makes a Family Campaign, Governor Cuomo is leading the charge to protect modern families.”
Current New York law prohibits gestational surrogacy, creating legal uncertainty for parents using reproductive technology to conceive a child. The Governor’s proposed legislation will establish criteria for surrogacy contracts and a surrogacy bill of rights that would provide the nation’s strongest protections for surrogates and parents and streamline the “second parent adoption” process, removing outdated barriers and extending common-sense protections for New Yorkers looking to start their families.
The new legislation will:
- Lift the State’s harmful ban on gestational surrogacy. Under current law, paid surrogacy is punishable by a fine, and unpaid surrogacy agreements are unenforceable and not legally binding.
- Create the Surrogates’ Bill of Rights, which will guarantee the strongest protections in the nation for surrogates, ensuring the unfettered right of surrogates to make their own health care decisions, including whether to terminate or continue a pregnancy, and that surrogates have access to comprehensive health insurance and independent legal counsel of their choosing, all paid for by the intended parents.
- Create legal protections for parents of children conceived by reproductive technologies such as artificial insemination and egg donation.
- Establish criteria for surrogacy contracts to protect all parties in the process.
- Eliminate burdensome and often expensive barriers for “second parent adoption,” instead requiring a single visit to court to recognize legal parenthood while the child is in utero.
Legalizing Gestational Surrogacy
Governor Cuomo has long championed the rights of LGBTQ individuals and has sought to ensure that all New Yorkers have equal ability to start and raise families in this State. Gestational surrogacy provides same-sex couples and people struggling with fertility the ability to conceive a child with the help of medical advances in assisted reproduction. Current state laws not only ban gestational surrogacy, but also fail to clearly define who the legal parents are when a child is conceived via reproductive technology. Forty-seven other states permit gestational surrogacy. Governor Cuomo will once again champion legislation to lift this ban.
Streamlining “Second Parent Adoption”
The legal process known as “Second Parent Adoption” currently presents many antiquated barriers to individuals, particularly same-sex couples, seeking to adopt their partner’s biological child.
The process can take about a year and imposes many burdensome expenses, including lawyer’s fees, court fees and fees for the mandatory home visit from a social worker that can cost up to $5,000. Petitioning parents must also provide a letter stating their position and salary, a letter from their primary physician, a letter from the child’s pediatrician stating the child is in good health, a list of every residence the petitioning parent has lived in for the past 28 years and relevant financial information, in addition to providing fingerprints for a background check.
Governor Cuomo’s legislation would simplify and streamline this process by instead requiring a single visit to court to recognize legal parenthood while the child is in utero.