May 29, 2019
Albany, NY

Testimony from Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa and Counsel to the Governor Alphonso David Submitted for Today's Hearing Held by Senator Brad Hoylman on Gestational Surrogacy

TOP Testimony from Secretary to the Governor...

Unlike 47 other states, New York State law expressly prohibits LGBTQ couples and couples struggling with fertility from forming families with the help of a gestational surrogate. In fact, New York law subjects those couples to penalties. This status quo flies in the face of New York's position as the most progressive state in the nation and a leader in the fight for LGBTQ equality. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, we enacted marriage equality, enacted GENDA, took aggressive actions to counter the Trump Administration's efforts to legalize discrimination against transgender individuals seeking access to health care, launched groundbreaking new initiatives to end the AIDS epidemic in New York, and advanced other critical protections for the LGBTQ community.


But with antiquated laws that bar surrogacy, New York is saying, in essence, that an infertile couple or an LGBTQ couple cannot have a child with the help of medical advances in assisted reproduction. As the Governor said: This is unacceptable, and it must be a next step post-marriage equality in the fight for LGBTQ families. It is not that LGBTQ couples and couples struggling with fertility in New York do not utilize gestational surrogacy - it is that they do it in other jurisdictions where hospitals and health care are not as strong as New York, and where the regulations are not near the standard being proposed in New York. This on its own is absurd.


That is why earlier this year Governor Cuomo announced as part of a comprehensive package of LGBTQ protections in his 2020 Executive Budget a proposal to make gestational surrogacy legal in New York State. The measure would provide LGBTQ couples and couples struggling with fertility the ability to conceive a child with the help of a gestational surrogate. It would reduce the burden on couples - who in some cases are required to spend prohibitive amounts of money to travel out of state to have a child - while also ensuring critical legal protections for them, their children, and the women who offer to be gestational surrogates. The pending surrogacy proposal would include the strongest regulations and protections in the nation for people who chose to serve as gestational surrogates, addressing the rightful concerns of women's rights advocates who want to be certain that this new law would not result in the exploitation of women.


This administration has made it a priority to fight for women and families with fertility issues, including enacting a new policy as part of this year's budget that requires large group insurers to cover the cost of IVF and large, small, and individual insurance providers to cover egg-freezing for women with certain health conditions. And we believe strongly that women should have the right to control their own reproductive health choices - as demonstrated by our push for the Reproductive Health Act, which we successfully enacted this year.


Enacting gestational surrogacy is one of Governor Cuomo's top priorities for the remaining weeks of the legislative session and he is urging the Legislature to get it done before leaving Albany in June. Too many families have struggled for too long. The time to act is now.


We thank Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Amy Paulin for bringing attention to this important issue and look forward to continuing to partner with them on it in the coming weeks.

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Contact the Governor's Press Office