Urgent News

MFC Testifies in Favor of Bill to Study Commercial Surrogacy in MN

Representative Peggy Scott (Andover, District 35B) is leading the charge in the MN House to ask the Legislature, for the first time, to thoroughly study the issue of commercial surrogacy and its impact upon women and children (and dozens more implications!) in a fair, nonpartisan way.

Representative Scott's bill (H.F. 437) passed out of the Civil Law & Data Practices Committee in the House on Thursday, March 5, 2015!

MFC's policy director, Autumn Leva, testified in favor of Rep. Scott's bill. Read her testimony below:

Congratulations, Rep. Scott, and a big THANK YOU to you!

MFC's policy director, Autumn Leva, testified in favor of Rep. Scott's bill. Read her testimony below:

My name is Autumn Leva, and I am the Policy Director for Minnesota Family Council.  Minnesota Family Council supports H.F. 437 as establishing the most responsible path forward on the issue of surrogacy in Minnesota, and thanks Chairwoman Scott for her leadership on this issue. We have been up front with everyone with whom we’ve discussed this issue on our position opposing commercial surrogacy arrangements, but we also see no harm in studying the issue of surrogacy in depth. Thus, we support H.F. 437.

I would like to briefly highlight three pieces of written testimony you should have received, testimony from a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist who has experience working with patients who served as surrogates, testimony from Jessica Kern a woman born via surrogacy, and testimony from Elisa Gomez a woman who served as a surrogate mother. All three testimonies speak to the need to study the issues related to surrogacy arrangements in greater depth by establishing a fair, unbiased Legislative Commission where all voices are heard.

Currently, Minnesota law —similar to the law of many other states — does not recognize the validity of commercial surrogacy contracts. While surrogacy arrangements are taking place, they are done in a climate of legal uncertainty. Because of this, proponents of the surrogacy industry have pushed for laws over the past decade that would legitimize commercial surrogacy contracts in Minnesota, making Minnesota an attractive market in which the commercial industry can operate.

These bills, backed by surrogacy brokers, have failed largely because Minnesotans and their elected officials have identified many unanswered questions regarding the surrogacy industry.

Indeed, this is not the first time Minnesotans have identified the need to create a forum to discuss the issues related to commercial surrogacy. In 2002, surrogacy language from the Uniform Parentage Act was not adopted by the legislature in order to give lawmakers more time to deliberate and discuss the complex public policy considerations related to surrogacy before implementing any legislation in Minnesota. Again, in 2008, Governor Pawlenty vetoed a bill that would have legitimized commercial surrogacy arrangements and reiterated that further discussion regarding commercial surrogacy contracts was needed, particularly to protect vulnerable women and children.

To date, no meaningful analysis has been done in the legislature. Many issues related to surrogacy arrangements have not been resolved, and considerable disagreement persists within the legislature, the courts, medical communities, and the general public. As we saw from last year’s bill that proposed to legitimize surrogacy contracts, we have now reached a political stalemate and trying to hear these bills in the normal committee process is not sufficient.

As you can see from the variety of perspectives before you today, surrogacy arrangements raise a host of questions for all parties involved, including the child, surrogate mother, and intended parents. Furthermore, there are different types of surrogacy arrangements to be considered. Surrogacies can be gestational, where a surrogate mother carries a child not related to her, or traditional, where the surrogate mother is also the biological mother. Surrogacies can also be commercial arrangements where surrogate mothers earn profit, or altruistic where surrogate mothers carry a child for (for example) a friend or sister for no profit. 

The many various implications and types of surrogacy arrangements—and how they should be considered under our law—are all questions that can and should be addressed by a Legislative Commission.

Indeed, in the United States alone, surrogacy arrangements are addressed differently, with some states banning the arrangements altogether, some states banning the commercial versions of the arrangements like Western Europe and Canada, and some states permitting all types of arrangements.

Clearly the time has come for this issue to receive an in-depth study, permitting Minnesota to decide its own best way forward on this issue. The Legislative Commission is the most fair and responsible way to achieve that end.

MFC commends this committee for considering H.F. 437, and asks for the committee members to support this bill so that the legislature can undertake a comprehensive analysis of surrogacy arrangements in order to better inform any future legislation that is proposed in Minnesota.

Thank you.

Published on by Autumn Leva.