In 2012, is it fair to cry exploitation when a woman makes her own reproductive choices? The New Jersey state Senate narrowly approved a new bill yesterday allowing women to act as gestational carrier – but it’s being met with some strong opposition. The New Jersey bill specifies the difference between a surrogate and a gestational carrier – terms that are often confused but definitely not interchangeable. Gestational carriers are different from surrogates because the woman is not using her own egg. Genetically, she has no link to the child. The legislation puts specific regulations into place – the carrier must be over the age of 21, must have previously given birth to a child herself, and must undergo psychological evaluation and counseling before contracting with an intended parent. These are wonderful protections for all parties involved, and requirements that we at ConceiveAbilities practice as well.
However, groups as diverse as the National Organization for Women and the socially conservative Family Policy Council both say the bill violates the rights of the woman giving birth. One group, according to an article on NorthJersey.com, went so far as to say that it would “lead to the radical creation of a breeding class that is exploitive of women.”
This is a frustrating – not to mention extremely false – statement, especially to an agency like ConceiveAbilities who prides itself on respecting women and their ability to make informed decisions about their bodies. And we can attest to the fact that the women we work with are not poor, uneducated, or exploited. They are bright, well-spoken, and simply want to help someone else have a family.
Their careful assessment of the process results in them wanting to do something extraordinarily meaningful – which also benefits the gestational carrier’s family. To say this is exploitation ignores the true character of these women.