Senator compares surrogate parenting to the wild, wild west

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By Abby Rogers
For MarylandReporter.com

Maryland is in the dark when it comes to regulating surrogate parenting, according to Sen. Delores Kelley, and she wants to shed light on the issue.

Kelley, D-Baltimore County, has sponsored a bill that would create a commission to study the issue of surrogacy, an issue she says is so unregulated it can be compared to the wild, wild west.

Delores Kelley

Sen. Delores Kelley

“This is a situation in which the science is ahead of us, no matter what we think of it,” Kelley said during her testimony in front of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Thursday afternoon. “It is occurring and we can’t put the genie back in the box.”

Surrogacy is the process in which a couple pays a woman to carry their child in her womb and then give birth to the child. If the bill is approved, the commission would study how often surrogacy happens in Maryland, any physical or health issues that occur due to surrogate parenting and how surrogacy affects the children born, among other issues.

At the end of its study, the commission would make recommendations to the governor and the General Assembly about what laws, if any, should be made regarding surrogacy, according to the bill.

The commission would be made up of 19 members, including three from the Senate, three from the House of Delegates, a bioethicist who is affiliated with an institution of higher education in Maryland and a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland.

While she stressed that Maryland needs some sort of law in regards to surrogacy, “we can’t go to a conclusion when we don’t know the issue that well,” Kelley told the committee.

Not everyone at Thursday’s hearing supported the idea of studying surrogacy. Nancy Paltell, associate director for the Maryland Catholic Conference, said the conference thinks surrogate motherhood should be banned in general. She said surrogacy could negatively impact children, because they might not always get the chance to know their biological parents.

“Just because something is possible doesn’t mean it’s right,” she said after Kelley’s testimony.
However, if a commission is going to examine the issue, Paltell suggested amendments to Kelley’s bill, saying if such a serious issue was going to be looked at, it needs to be studied in greater detail.

Paltell said the bill, and the commission, should focus on the rights of the surrogate mothers. There is a greater chance for exploitation for these woman since so much money is involved in the contracts signed between the surrogates and the couples. The couple who hired the surrogate are also able to control what the woman drinks and eats, as well as whether she can take antibiotics, which is why the surrogate’s rights need to be studied, Paltell said.