The laws for surrogacy in New York are changing in 2021 to become more progressive and reflective of modern reproductive needs.
Paid gestational surrogacy in the state is currently banned, but that will be lifted Feb. 15. The change came via the Child-Parent Security Act that was signed in April by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Until the change, only non-paid surrogacy is legal in the state, but people have utilized paid-surrogacy options outside New York.
“New York residents won’t have to go out of state unless it just so happens that their surrogate lives in a different state in order for a contract to be enforceable,” said Jamie Batt, partner at Rupp Baase Pfalzgraf Cunningham LLC in Buffalo.
Batt and three colleagues at the firm – partner Elizabeth DiPirro and associates Micelle Graham and Keli Iles-Hernandez – have formed a special practice group to assist couples or single parents who need guidance with the legal end of the process.
“The law now enables us when we create a contract to outline the rights and obligations of all of those who are going to participate in the creation of the new life,” said DiPirro. “It will outline the rights of the intended parents and the gestational carrier.”
She said the contracts will address medical issues that may develop during a pregnancy and legally allow intended parents to have a say in what happens should something come to light.
The law additionally creates a Surrogates’ Bill of Rights that includes more protections. Surrogates will have a choice to terminate or continue a pregnancy if it poses health risks.
Batt, primarily a business attorney at the firm, has assisted on memorandums of understanding for surrogacy situations over the years. She has a child born through surrogacy and understands the legal needs from her personal and emotional experience.
“I know the whole process from start to finish,” she said. “I felt like it was something I could really help people with. With the law changing, we thought it would be a great time to further this group, dive into this and get more involved.”
The upcoming legal change, Graham said, brings New York up to speed with other states.
“There were a lot of people lobbying against it for so many years because there was such significant concern of potentially exploiting women who were willing to act as gestational carriers,” Graham said. “I think one of the unique aspects of this law that should be highlighted is that the protections are the strongest nationally that are available among the various state laws.”
The attorneys will focus on explaining the provisions to be included in contracts.
“This can be a scary or daunting thing for any individual, whether you’re the intended parent or surrogate,” Graham said. “We’re going to be able to help people navigate through that.”