PG writer Sally Kalson tackles the thorny issues of surrogate pregnancy custody in response to a recent court ruling removing custody of triplets from their surrogate mother. It is a complicated, sticky mess and certainly deserving of some attention for our legislature.
However, PA plans to establish a legal framework in surrogacy matters will tap into the age-old battle on family values. Legislation proposed by Senator Jane Earll, R-Erie, permits only an infertile married couple to establish a surrogate contract. Obviously, LGBT couples are left out since marriage is not an option for us. At least in Pennsylvania.
But consider how this legal restriction will impact heterosexuals. Single adults would not be able to use surrogacy to conceive a child. Nor would married couples who perhaps have their own reasons for not wanting to carry a child. As Kalson points out, issues around frozen embryos only make the situation more complicated – what if the the couple divorces? or one partner dies? Under this legislation, that would eliminate surrogacy.
My point (and, I hope, Kalson's point) is that when the government legislatively imposes an ideal family framework on Pennsylvania citizens, it usually doesn't fit. Heterosexual marriage does not automatically confer some special degree of happiness or healthiness on any family unit. What is does confer is a two-tiered family status: the married, reproducing heterosexuals and all the rest of us.
Kalson sums it up neatly:
Current law considers gay couples and lone adults good enough to adopt children who are already born. They ought to be good enough to enter a legal agreement to produce a child through surrogacy.
That said, the state still needs a framework to protect the children born of such agreements, and we don't have to reinvent the wheel to get it. The Uniform Act covers the eventualities with sufficient clarity.
From the very beginning, it makes plain to everyone — sperm and egg donors, gestational moms and their spouses (if any), intended parents and the courts — what provisions are permissible and enforceable, and who has what legal rights and responsibilities. In Pennsylvania, no such clarity exists.