The Organization of Parents Through Surrogacy
 




Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 611
Gurnee, IL 60031
Telephone:
(847)782-0224

Email: bzager@msn.com

  

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Dear Lawmaker


January , 2002


Dear Lawmaker:

OPTS is a national, not-for-profit, advocacy organization which supports infertile couples in building families through surrogate parenting and other assisted reproductive technologies. Our members include parents, prospective parents, surrogates and many professionals (physicians, attorneys, psychologists and service providers) working in the fields of infertility, adoption and surrogacy both across the U.S. as well as abroad. Established in 1988, OPTS has no paid lobbyist or any financial interest in lawmaking either for or against surrogate parenting in your home state.

It is estimated that one in every six couples is infertile. For some of these couples, surrogacy may represent their only option for a biologically-related child. Perhaps you personally know someone who has struggled with infertility. A family member, friend or constituent, perhaps. You might be surprised to learn that millions throughout the country are affected by infertility, people of all nationalities, religions and political affiliations..

We appreciate your interest in developing public policy on surrogacy. On behalf of your constituents, however, we hope you will favor legislation that supports their efforts to build their families through the option. We hope you'll look at previous proposals consistent with recommendations of the Model Surrogacy Act, a 1988 proposal by the American Bar Association's Section of Family Law Adoption and Surrogacy Committee. We hope you will also review public policy recommendations on surrogacy by the well-respected National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, a prestigious lawmakers' advisory group working for uniform state laws (please see more on them on our website at www.opts.com).

Practical legislative initiatives have contained one or more of the following elements:

1. Recognition of contracts that protect all parties in an agreement.

2. Medical, psychological and legal services for the commissioning couple and surrogate mother, paid for by the intended parents.

3. Provisions for health and/or life insurance for the surrogate to be paid for by the commissioning couple.

4. Fair compensation for the surrogate's time, effort reproductive services and risk of pregnancy and delivery. Why not just allow "medical and ancillary" or "living" expenses in lieu of a fee? Contrary to popular impression, most surrogates have a job or other means of support and do not see surrogacy as a way to make ends meet. But they do expect to be paid for their efforts, risk and time. The notion that surrogates should provide services for "free" is a slap in the face to the value of their work as surrogates and women in general. Additionally, unpaid surrogacy puts too much pressure on the intended parents' family or friends to help them out. Unpaid surrogacy doesn't discourage commercialism or exploitation. In fact, it promotes "deal-making" between prospective parents and surrogates under the table. time, however, being a surrogate isn't a good choice for poor women who can't put food on the table or who are disadvantaged. Most reputable services do not accept women on welfare.

5. Support for clinics and agencies that provide services and guidance to intended parents and surrogates. Laws against providers cut off access to information, guidance and needed services. Such laws expose parties in an agreement to the extra risks associated with "do it yourself" arrangements.

6. Recognition of the intended parents as the legal parents before or at birth of the child. In some states currently, the birthmother may be forced to take the legal and financial responsibility that goes with having her name listed as mother on the birth-certificate. The biologically-related parents may then be forced to 'adopt" their own related child. Custody disputes may occur when the baby's intended parents aren't recognized right at birth. While several states have recognized and/or legalized surrogacy, there is still little positive legislation on the books. We hope that you, as a lawmaker, will support legislation which supports choice in family-building for your constituents.



SURROGACY CONCERNS:

Is surrogacy like adoption? In adoption, an already-pregnant woman gives up a baby which will be adopted and raised by another family. In surrogacy, the intent is for the child to be raised by a pre-selected set of parents. These prospective parents are selected by the surrogate before a pregnancy occurs. This can be done with consideration, informed consent and under non trauma-tic conditions. In almost all surrogacy births, the child is biologically related to one or both of the intended parents.

Does surrogacy exploit poor women? Opponents of reproductive choice (even those calling themselves "choice" organizations) may claim surrogates are poor, helpless women who are being exploited or who aren't capable of making reproductive decisions for themselves. As a point of information, almost all surrogates are intelligent women with at least a high school diploma. They typically also have a job and/or working spouse. Welfare or uneducated women seldom pass screening. Opponents of choice may tell you they care about surrogates or have "constitutional" concerns in asking you to enact legislation cutting off choices, options and parental rights of infertile couples in your district. These lobbyists couldn't care less about the welfare of surrogates. Their goal is to build political power for themselves via lobbying for laws that interfere with the private reproductive decisions of your constituents. We hope you won't be persuaded by this type of lobbying.

Is surrogacy the same as baby-selling? Baby-selling occurs when a "deal" for cash is made between a birthmother and prospective parents, either directly or through a third party for cash under the table in exchange for a baby. Modern surrogacy agreements establish exactly what monies can be paid and on what time-table. In some states, court approval can be obtained for agreements in advance. And while there is case law involving the prosecution of baby brokers involved in adoption placement, your law clerk can verify that this is not the case with surrogacy.

What's the failure rate with surrogacy agreements? Aren't they all Baby M's? Contrary to what lobbyists will tell you and sensationalized media features, less than one-quarter of one percent of surrogate mothers have ever changed their minds about placement or had an issue with an written agreement. Less than one quarter of one percent! This fact, also, can be verified by your law clerk. Of an estimated 20,000 births via surrogacy since 1976, over 99% have worked out satisfactorily for all parties. This fact is not often acknowledged by media.

Should agreements be recognized? Written agreements spell out everyone's expectations and responsibilities. They are designed to promote cooperation and protect all parties from exploitation, particularly children. Courts and legislatures need only consider the outcome of the Baby M case as an example of why contracts need to be honored.

Do we need a surrogacy service in our home state? Many infertile couples must "do-it-them-selves" on the internet or go underground in states with overly-restrictive legislation. Or travel long distances for surrogacy services available legally elsewhere. We hope you will support recognition of surrogacy in your home state, so that infertile constituents can get the help they need right at home.

Should we create a government panel to determine if technologies such as IVF, surrogacy, sperm-donation, egg donation, embryo adoption, embryo research, etc. should be banned? Lobbyists against choice may urge you to support a ban on surrogacy or other reproductive technology. Or ask for a "study" or bio-ethics type commission (paid for with tax dollars) designed to conclude that surrogacy and other reproductive options should be severely restricted or outlawed. We hope you will be wary of lobbying designed to take away the family-building options of your constituents and support legislation that supports their right to autonomy, privacy and choice in family-building.

The volume of calls and letters OPTS receives each day suggests that infertility is on the rise. On behalf of the callers from your own state and district, we thank you for any support you will give them. If more information from OPTS is desired, please give us a call.

Sincerely,
Organization of Parents Through Surrogacy



 

2007 OPTS - The Organization of Parents Through Surrogacy