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Assisted Reproduction

Christie Vetoes Bill Regulating Surrogate Parenting in N.J.

From Susan Livio of NJ.com: Governor Chris Christie, the newest Republican candidate, has once again vetoed a bill that establishes legal protections for people involved in gestational surrogacy agreements.

For the second time in three years, Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed legislation that would create rules for people in New Jersey who wish to conceive a child through a surrogate known as a “gestational carrier,” disappointing same-sex couples and adoption advocates.

The “New Jersey Gestational Carrier Act” would have clarified the law that already allows these arrangements as it applies to women who, unlike surrogates, have no biological link to the fetus because the egg belongs to another woman.

In his veto message late Monday night, Christie noted the legislature had sent him exactly the same bill he had vetoed in 2012 “rather than work with interested parties to address concerns raised during the initial debate.” Opponents, such as New Jersey Right to Life and the League of American Families, argued the bill exploits women and treats children as a commodity.

None of the “significant ethical and moral concerns raised by a government-enforced system of agreements to procreate” have been addressed, according to the veto statement. “I take seriously the need to guard against any societal deprecation of the miracle of life.”

Andrea Bowen, Executive Director for Garden State Equality, called the veto “a terrible outcome for families across New Jersey who need gestational surrogacy agreements to strengthen their families. We deplore what Governor Christie has done.”

Donald Cofsky of Haddonfield, past president of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, who worked with the legislative sponsors in crafting the bill, said the governor doesn’t seem to understand gestational carrier arrangements are already legal in New Jersey.

“All this act did was clarify everyone’s responsibilities and make sure no child left no child in the lurch,” Cofsky said. He could envision a situation in which intended parents walk away from a child born with a disability, leaving the carrier responsible. “The child will end up with the state and the taxpayers would foot the bill,” he said.

The state has not updated its surrogacy law since the Baby M case in 1988, which defined the legal relationship between a surrogate using her egg and a husband who used his sperm to conceive a child.

“New Jersey is usually in the forefront on these issues, but is trailing behind,” Cofsky said.

The bill (S2648) required the carrier to sign an agreement saying she would surrender the child immediately upon birth, and the intended parents’ names, not the carrier’s name, would appear on the birth certificate. Both intended parents and the gestational carrier would need to undergo a psychological evaluation and hire an attorney. The intended parents would be mandated to pay for the carrier’s attorney and all of their pregnancy and postpartum medical expenses, according to the bill.


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