Washington State is set to legalize commercial surrogacy, a move children’s rights advocates say amounts to the selling of babies. It awaits the governor’s signature.
Stacey Manning, giving testimony before lawmakers, said it’s led to devastating consequences in other states, including a case where a two men had a son through surrogacy for the sole purpose of sexually abusing the child.
“This bill would create the same legal climate that exists in California where, in 2016, triplets born to a surrogate were commissioned by and currently are in the custody of a single, 50-year-old deaf-mute diagnosed with paranoid personality disorder, anxiety, and a history of cruelty to animals. These people would never have been permitted to adopt but this bill paves the way for anyone to purchase a child.”
It also plans to base the definition of a parent on “intent,” which many say opens avenues for child abuse and other horrors.
In late-night vote Wednesday morning, the Washington state House of Representatives passed the “Uniform Parentage Act,” along party lines with every Democrat in favor and every Republican opposed. The bill had previously passed the state Senate with total Democratic support and three Republicans. The state’s Democratic governor, Jay Inslee, is expected to sign the legislation.
“For House Republicans, this bill was a matter of conscience,” said Liz Pike, who represents the state’s 18th house district, according to Clark County Today.
“We all voted ‘no’ to protect the womb from being monetized and commercialized. This bill sets virtually no limits on the amount people will be able to sell or purchase a human baby for. I’m disgusted that such a bill would ever be considered let alone pass. What have we become as a state, selling human babies to the highest bidder? Is this who we are?”
Katy Faust, who leads children’s rights organization Them Before Us and testified against the legislation during the hearings, regards the likely soon-to-be law as disastrous.
“When I say that we have established a global marketplace for children, I am not exaggerating. That is exactly what this is,” Faust said Thursday afternoon.
“Once you legalize something and commercialize something, you’re going to get more of it,” she said, noting that the Washington legislation contains no restrictions and more economically disadvantaged and vulnerable women who think this is just another way to make money will be exploited.
As the bill stands, Faust explained, no limits are placed on how many children can be procured through surrogacy arrangements, no requirements exist saying that people intending to pay for surrogacy services must be residents of Washington state or American citizens, or even that the women must be inseminated in Washington. All it takes is one consultation that occurs on Washington soil and a contract can be legally enforced even if the individuals using the surrogate mother hail from nations where surrogacy is prohibited.
Motions to amend the bill requiring all “intended parents” to be subject to the same screening procedures as adoptive parents and the creation of a state-run database to track those intended parents and limit the number of births were voted down.
“In its current form, as it passed out of the House, the bill even permits convicted felons to purchase human babies,” Pike explained.
“There was a host of amendments offered by my esteemed colleagues that would have put needed protections in the bill, but of course, the Democrats systematically rejected them all — one by one.”
In recent years, notable horror stories have appeared detailing the abuses of the fertility industry.
The Straits Times reported Sunday that 28-year-old Japanese billionaire Mitsutoki Shigeta, who is not married, won custody of 13 children that his sperm was used to create through an American-owned fertility clinic operating in Bangkok, using surrogates from Thailand. He reportedly told the clinic he wanted to produce 10 to 15 babies per year and continue the baby-making process until he dies, yielding potentially hundreds of children. He plans to send his offspring to an international school in Tokyo.
Faust said that he or anyone else like him could come now to Washington state and legally undertake a similar endeavor if the Uniform Parentage Act is signed into law.
Though the Democratic legislators had their minds made up, Faust gave each one a copy of a list of documented cases where surrogacy-related incidents went horribly wrong, including a case where two men were convicted of subjecting their surrogate-born son to, as one investigator described it, “the worst [pedophile] rings … if not the worst ring I’ve ever heard of.” Police believe the men created the boy through surrogacy ”for the sole purpose of exploitation.”
Several nations have closed their borders to surrogacy altogether, banning third party reproductive operators from conducting business there often because of such ugly instances and abuses.
“So now we wait for children to be harmed,” said Faust, exasperated, when asked where things currently stand in the northwestern state. Commercial surrogacy is also legal in California and legislation is currently under consideration in a few other states.
Though the surrogacy aspect has received most of the attention in the legislative debate, the bill is far more radical in how it defines “parent” as it essentially erases biology from the picture, Faust stressed.
“What this bill actually does is establish that all it takes for [the state government] to decide that one gets full authority over a vulnerable baby is one’s ‘intent’ to parent. It doesn’t matter if you have any biological connection to the child at all. It doesn’t matter how many adults, if one is single or married. If you intend to parent and create a contract and have the means to create a child through surrogacy or other reproductive technologies, we will give you our full authority.”