Good news out of New Jersey:
New Jersey’s strict surrogate parenting laws would be relaxed under a bill that passed the Senate today. The bill, passing by a 22 to 11 vote, would eliminate the three-day waiting period for parents of children born to surrogates to be listed on their birth certificates.
The bill grew out of the case of a Union County couple, initially allowed to be listed on their son’s birth certificate after the three-day waiting period.The state Bureau of Vital Statistics went to court to block it, however, contending that because the intended mother had no genetic or biological tie to the infant, she had to adopt the baby despite a surrogacy contract recognized by a judge.
The couple’s attorney, Donald Cofsky, argued before the state Supreme Court that the baby — conceived with an anonymous donor egg and her husband’s sperm — should be considered the child of the wife as well, not just of the husband. The court has not yet issued a decision.
Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), one of the sponsors, said before the vote that the bill would provide “a thoughtful process that provides protection and consideration for the child.” “Both sides of the agreement would be respected and understood,” under the bill, Vitale said, allowing “life to be brought into the world where it wouldn’t have existed.”
Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen), objected, declaring, “Renting out a woman’s womb is repugnant personally to me and a lot of folks. . .It’s a mistake to make it into a commercialized industry which is going to develop” because of this bill. The bill, (S1599), needs to be voted on in the full Assembly before it goes to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk for consideration.
The law governing surrogacy contracts passed a quarter century ago after the state Supreme Court’s “Baby M” decision spurred a national debate over who has rights to the child when couples hire a woman to give birth. The 72-hour waiting period after a surrogate gives birth was designed to give the surrogate time to decide whether to relinquish her rights to the newborn.
While this development does not legalize commercialized surrogacy in New Jersey, it is one small baby step in that direction.