Beth Anderson earns extra income renting out her womb to infertile couples who dream of becoming parents—a mutually beneficial arrangement, as she sees it. “I really, really like being pregnant,” she says. “They need help, it’s something I want do, and it’s a way for me to make a little bit of extra money.”
But these types of arrangements are outlawed in many states. In Oklahoma, for example, surrogacy contracts are considered a form of child trafficking. In Michigan, surrogates face five years in jail and up to $50,000 in fines.
Gestational surrogacy contracts are also against the law in New York, but State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-27th Senate Dist.) introduced a bill last year that would change that. And he has first hand experience with the issue. Hoylman and his husband had to go to California to find a surrogate to carry their daughter Silvia, who’s now four.
“If the [bill] passes, we’ll have surrogates who could actually engage with intended parents and egg donors,” says Hoylman.
“We don’t want to turn baby making into a commercial industry,” says Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, who, among other things, worries that surrogacy contracts don’t “anticipate every problem” that could arise between a surrogate and a couple.
With the legalization of same-sex marriage and ever-improving reproductive technologies, the movement to legalize commercial surrogacy is likely to grow in coming years.