by Jennifer Lahl
This article was first published at The Center for Bioethics and Culture on May 29, 2012.
The New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act is currently under consideration in the state’s legislature (S1599/ A2646) and would authorize gestational carrier agreements in the state.
A gestational carrier agreement is a written contract in which a woman agrees to carry and give birth to a child created using assisted reproduction on behalf of an intended parent. When the child is born, the intended parent becomes the legal parent of the child and the woman, who is called a ‘gestational carrier,’ has no parental rights or obligations.
When the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in the famous Baby M case, it declared that surrogacy contracts violate statutes and policies that protect the rights of mothers and children.
If passed, this bill will codify the commodification and exploitation of women and children. It ignores New Jersey’s bi-partisan Bioethics Commission report, which strongly condemned all forms of surrogacy. And it is being supported and pushed by surrogacy brokers who will benefit financially if surrogacy contracts become legally permissible.
I spoke with Wesley Smith, our special consultant, who told me this about the bill:
This bill crassly furthers the ongoing biotechnological agenda of redefining the living human body and its constituent parts as a mere natural resource. It also brings us back to the bad old days of the “wet nurse,” in which women of lower economic station were used by the well off in exploitive ways. Further, to use the term “gestational carrier,” as opposed to “birth mother,” or even “surrogate mother,” is dehumanizing and objectifies the women whose uteruses would be rented and health and emotional wellbeing potentially impacted in a deleterious manner to fulfill the desires of the well off. This bill would legalize exploitation of poor women for their procreative capacities.