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Cuomo’s 16th proposal for 2020: Make it easier for New Yorkers to start families

Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to make it easier for those struggling with fertility to start families.

His 16th proposal in the 2020 State of the State Agenda includes lifting the state’s ban on gestational surrogacy.

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 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nation’s strongest protections for surrogates and parents and streamline the “second parent adoption” process, removing outdated barriers and extending common-sense protections for New Yorkers looking to start their families.

“New York’s surrogacy ban is based in fear not love, and it’s past time we updated our antiquated laws to help LGBTQ couples and people struggling with fertility use commonplace reproductive technology to start families,” Cuomo said. “New York is one of only three states that explicitly prohibits this practice — that’s unacceptable, and I’m going to make it a priority again this year to repeal the ban and provide the nation’s strongest protections for surrogates and parents choosing to take part in the surrogacy process.”

The new legislation will do the following if adopted as proposed:

  • Lift the State’s 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 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

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.

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.


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