For some reason, momentum is growing around state legislation that could impact the ability of families to use third-party reproduction. Specifically there has been an effort to legislate the use of egg donation in Arizona. New York and D.C. currently outlaws the use of gestational carriers. There has been an effort to ban gestational carriers in Kansas.
Much of it seems to be tied to the testimony of a film director who brings her documentary, Eggsploitation, to the attention of lawmakers. Another woman has made the rounds in various states to testify that surrogacy brokers are renting women’s wombs out because they make lots of money. And active representatives of the Catholic Church tend to be involved to move the legislation forward.
This consortium of players is now bringing the effort to Minnesota. Perhaps because a leading decision-maker in the state legislature is connected to the Minnesota Family Council, which is strongly working in favor of this bill alongside the Minnesota Catholic Conference. The Minnesotans for Surrogacy Awareness has been formed around the belief that surrogacy is bad for the well-being of women and children.
Why is this bill a troublesome precedent?
As I wrote about last week, on the face of it, expressing concern about whether surrogates and children born from surrogacy are being mistreated is certainly valuable. But… why are organizations that opposed marriage equality in Minnesota for the LGBTQ community now turning their attention to whether those couples can have families? Is it really because they have overwhelming evidence from therapists, doctors, families, surrogates and children that women and children are being exploited? Or is it because they don’t want gay couples — and those who suffered medical issues, such as cancer that led to a hysterectomy — to have children?
A line in both the House and Senate bills says: “While many families might desire to have a child, no one has a right to a child.”
A commission would be created to, among other things, look at “ethical considerations related to in vitro fertilization, embryo transfer, egg and sperm donation.”
As the outreach coordinator for Minnesota Catholic Conference put it in her lobbying efforts, “Women are not for rent. Babies are not for sale.” [bold is theirs]
While it might seem odd to think that bills potentially aimed against third-party reproduction opportunities in Minnesota could ever pass — in the state that by popular vote legislated for marriage equality for the LGBTQ community — this particular bill was introduced, including a Democratic author in the Senate, to create a commission to study ethics of reproduction without having consulted with doctors, mental health therapists, patients, donors, grown children and others long involved in this field in Minnesota to identify whether legislation is actually needed. [bold is mine]
Organizations promoting this bill indicate third-party reproduction is baby-selling that exploits women, which is not what most involved in legitimate research, therapy and patient advocacy have raised a red flag about.
I strongly believe it is time again for us to be vigilant about who decides who has the right to have children, and how. Because there is no research to suggest that this bill is needed. There are other motivations behind it.
Mindful legislation to protect the well-being of children we bring into the world is a good thing… but this is not a mindfully driven bill, and we need to make sure legislators who face this question recognize that.
Right now, they are getting a lot of voices from one side indicating that surrogacy in particular is exploiting women to sell babies for people who they presume don’t deserve families. Every voice that tells them something different about how and why our wonderful families were created helps balance the education these legislators are getting.
Whether we are single, LGBTQ, or have suffered uterine fibroids, cancer, endometriosis or other serious medical issues that can require the removal of our uterus, we need to rally together.
If you live in Minnesota, ask your family and friends and doctors to join you to oppose this bill here.
There are some issues that do need attention — but this Minnesota bill doesn’t address any of them.
If you have concerns about the impact of donor and/or surrogacy/gestational carrier conception on a child, look at the research studies in my previous blog to learn more about what is and is not an issue involving third-party reproduction.
— Mikki Morrissette