New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Vetoes Commercial Surrogacy Bill

Because this is a biotechnology/bioethics site, it is entirely appropriate for us to discuss the subject of commercial surrogacy. This week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have relaxed New Jersey’s strict surrogate parenting law. He said that his state had not yet properly addressed what he called the “profound” questions that surround creating a child through a surrogacy contract.

Gov Christie made a statement that explained the reasons behind his veto: “Permitting adults to contract with others regarding a child in such a manner unquestionably raises serious and significant issues. In contrast to traditional surrogacy, a gestational surrogate birth does not use the egg of the carrier. In this scenario, the gestational carrier lacks any genetic connection to the baby, and in some cases, it is feasible that neither parent is genetically related to the child. Instead, children born to gestational surrogates are linked to their parents by contract. While some all applaud the freedom to explore these new, and sometimes necessary, arranged births, others will note the profound change in the traditional beginnings of the family that this bill will enact. I am not satisfied that these questions have been sufficiently studied by the Legislature at this time.”

I personally applaud Gov. Christie’s veto. Commercial surrogacy employs a gestational carrier who carries the baby for another couple. When the gestational carrier gives birth to the baby, she is paid a prearranged sum of money for her services and for the transfer of her parental rights to the contracting parents.

Since the gestational carrier is being paid to surrender her claim to the child, it seems very clear to me that commercial surrogacy is baby selling. Any argument that tries to redefine what the payment to the gestational carrier is for seems, at least to me, to be inaccurate at best and dishonest at worse. Commercial surrogacy is baby selling and a society that values children should not be in the business of baby selling. Furthermore if we are truly dedicated to the proposition of the value of each human being not matter what their age, socioeconomic status, or gender, then no one regardless of their should be sold. It is degrading and debasing to the humanity of the person and to all people for that matter.

Altruistic surrogacy seems to me to be a different matter. It is not baby selling because the gestational carrier is only paid for her medical expenses. There is no payment for the exchange of parental rights and there is no baby selling.

While many infertile couples have contracted with women to carry their babies, and have received to blessing of a children, I cannot agree with the means by which that child was acquired.