Great news for New York surrogates and intended parents: surrogacy is now legal! Beginning February 15, 2021, New York joins the 47 other states who permit gestational surrogacy.

Here’s all you need to know about the new legislation.

Is paid surrogacy legal in New York?

Yes! The New York Child Parent Security Act (CPSA) was signed on April 3, 2020, and goes into effect on February 15, 2021. New Yorkers will legally be able to arrange and carry out paid surrogacy contracts: a move that surrogacy advocates have been campaigning for since 2012.

The comprehensive act addresses the parentage of all children born via third-party reproduction but does not cover traditional or genetic surrogacy (in which the surrogate uses her own egg).

For almost 30 years, paid surrogacy in New York has been considered an illegal act punishable by a fine. State laws have not only prohibited gestational surrogacy but have also made it difficult to define the legal parents of a child conceived via reproductive technology.

Although unpaid surrogacy arrangements are not viewed as criminal, parties involved in unpaid arrangements have no legal rights or protection.

The new legislation will change all this. Surrogacy contracts must now meet certain criteria to ensure the safe proceedings of all individuals involved.

These criteria allow surrogates unfettered rights in making her own health care decisions throughout the pregnancy and legal protections will =be extended to parents of children conceived by reproductive technologies (including sperm and egg donation). In fact, both surrogates and parents will be subject to the strictest protections in the USA: New York is now the only state in the country to have a Surrogate’s Bill of Rights. This has been referred to as the “gold standard for surrogates”.

How much does a surrogate earn in New York?

Compensation for surrogates will vary somewhat between agencies. At Family Source, we pride ourselves in offering generous compensation packages to our surrogates with base compensation of $48,000 or more.

When the new law comes into effect, gestational surrogates in New York may be compensated for a full range of factors associated with surrogacy, including:

  • Medical risks
  • Physical discomfort
  • Inconvenience
  • Responsibilities involved with their participation in the assisted reproduction

Intended parents must pay for the surrogate’s legal counsel, as well as the health and life insurance for one year after the surrogate gives birth.

The legislation stipulates that the amount of the compensation received “must be reasonable and negotiated in good faith between the parties”. All payments made to the surrogate must include the entire duration of the pregnancy and the recuperative period (up to eight weeks after the birth).

It also allows surrogates access to comprehensive health insurance and independent legal counsel of their choosing. If there are any complications during the pregnancy, the health insurance may be extended up to 18 weeks. The surrogate is also entitled to receive a life insurance policy during the pregnancy paid for by the intended parents. The beneficiary is designated by the surrogate.

Why was surrogacy banned in New York?

New York’s ban on surrogacy was enforced in 1992, following the highly publicized case of Baby M in 1986. The case involved a surrogate mother – Mary Beth Whitehead – who had agreed to be a surrogate for another couple, the Sterns. After the birth, however, Whitehead changed her mind and fought to keep ‘her’ baby.

Eventually, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that surrogacy contracts violated public policy. The Sterns were granted custody of Baby M – despite Whitehead being the biological mother.

Several states banned surrogacy following the outcome of the case, including New York. But while many of these states have since lifted the ban (excluding Louisiana and Michigan) New York refused to follow suit.

Of course, this caused many difficulties for New Yorkers who wished to create families but are unable to conceive naturally. Couples and individuals looking to use third-party reproduction have been forced to travel out of state, incurring high costs for travel and other expenses on top of fertility treatments.

Legalizing Surrogacy in New York

One of the figureheads in the lifting of the ban was Governor Andrew Cuomo, the 56th Governor of New York State. Cuomo has long championed the rights of LGBTQ individuals to have children. His campaign ‘Love Makes a Family’ fought for New Yorkers struggling with fertility to have equal ability to start and raise families.

Now, those who wish to have children through gestational surrogacy, including heterosexual couples, single women, single men, gay couples, and unmarried couples, are able to legally do so.

One of the most important items of the new legislation is that the intended parents immediately become financially responsible for the baby, through a streamlined legal process requiring only one visit to court. The surrogate, however, has no legal rights to the child. This definition of parental roles is crucial, particularly in the case of emergency medical decisions.

Of equal importance is that women in New York now once again have the right to make their own decisions about their bodies throughout a surrogacy arrangement. The surrogate is free to choose her own doctor and also the number of embryos to be implanted in her body. She is also not required to agree to a cesarean section. Ultimately, the surrogate can also choose to terminate the pregnancy if she wishes, and at any stage.

Ready to Become a Surrogate in New York?

Women in New York who wish to become gestational surrogates can now begin the application process and undergo the required screening.

If you’d like to know more about surrogacy in New York, Family Source Consultants are ready to answer your questions!

Staci Swiderski, CEO and owner of Family Source Consultants has been involved in the field of reproductive medicine since 2002. Staci has vigorously grown the comprehensive egg donation and gestational surrogacy agency to become a worldwide leader in the third-party reproduction field. Staci is a former intended parent herself. She and her husband welcomed their son via gestational surrogacy in 2005. Additionally, Staci had the experience of assisting an infertile couple (AKA Recipient Parents) build their family through her efforts as an egg donor, with her donation resulting in the births of their son and daughter.