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The NY Advocacy and Research Forum

On November 8th, 2019, Men Having Babies (MHB) presented a comprehensive program: The Case for NY Surrogacy Reform. The event was offered in cooperation with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, Family Equality Council, Stonewall Democrats of NYC, The Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA) and Equality NY. It was attended by about a hundred community activists, representatives from NY legislative offices, professionals, academicians, students, parents and prospective parents.

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Will NY finally join 47 other states in allowing safe and ethical surrogacy?
What do medical, psychological, and legal experts recommend?
What does academic research show about medical and psychological outcomes?
What is the position of leading human rights organizations?
What do surrogacy children think about claims that they were “sold”?
How do surrogates and their families feel about the proposed bill?
Is surrogacy a “gay issue,” a women’s rights issue, both, or more?
The Child Parent Security Act (CPSA), which will reverse the ban on compensated surrogacy in New York State, was passed by the NY Senate, and is likely to come up for a vote in the Assembly in the upcoming legislative session. Described by supporters as the most comprehensive and thoughtful surrogacy legislation ever drafted, the bill also faced criticism and claims that not enough discussion has taken place about ethical concerns.

Men Having Babies, in cooperation with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, Family Equality Council, Equality NY, Stonewall Democrats of NYC, and The Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, present “The Case for NY Surrogacy Reform” as an opportunity to contribute to an informed public debate on the issue. We will bring a wide range of perspectives from surrogates, their young adult children, children born through surrogacy, academic researchers, representatives of national community organizations and international human rights organizations, and legal, mental health and medical experts.

We invite lawmakers, community activists, professionals, academicians, students, parents and prospective parents to join us. We hope attendees will benefit from a historical and international perspective, a review of relevant research findings, and a thorough analysis on how the proposed surrogacy legislation addresses core ethical issues & essential best practices.


The Stewart Hotel
371 Seventh Ave, New York City, NY 10001-3984


The program is open to the public free of charge, but requires registration.

People who already registered for the November 9-10 NY MHB conference need not register for the forum separately, however RSVP is recommended to

Forum attendees are also invited to join the general MHB conference’s Saturday afternoon session on ethical, social and psychological aspect of surrogacy (see below).


Friday, November 8:

3:30-4:00 PM: Registration (Fitzgerald Foyer, lobby level)

4:00-4:40 PM: Major Concerns at the Heart of the Surrogacy Legislation Debate
Compensation, Commercialization, Choice:
  • Is compensated surrogacy also “commercial” surrogacy?
  • What is the compensation for?
  • Under what circumstances, if ever, does compensation amount to inducement or exploitation? Or: is compensated surrogacy by definition always morally wrong, even if it the result of a seemingly free Choice?
Cooling Off Period vs. Clarity:
  • Can a surrogate really fully consent and enter into a contract to 'hand over' a baby before the baby is born?
  • Should she have the right to claim legal custody during a “cooling off” period?
  • Or would she and other parties be better off with legal clarity of the baby’s status in advance? Would the child be better off? What would be the long term financial and psychological impacts?
Moderator: Ron Poole-Dayan, MHB Executive Director
Graeme Reid, Human Rights Watch / head of LGBT division
Karla Torres, Center for Reproductive Rights / Assisted Reproduction Policy Counsel
Stephanie Decampos, former gestational surrogate
Michelle Pine, MHB board member and a former gestational surrogate
Lisa Schuster, former gestational surrogate
Silvia Schneider Fox, PsyD, MHB board member
Fabrice Houdart, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) / Human Rights Officer, and a father through surrogacy

4:40-5:10 PM: How Can Surrogacy Be Practiced Ethically? (Fitzgerald Ballroom)

Best Practices: What are the procedural best practices required to ensure the minimization of ethical, medical and psychological risks?
  • The role of medical, psycho-social and financial screening.
  • Assuring medical, psychological and legal independence and transparency.
  • Providing gestational surrogates with the security and support they require throughout the journey.
  • Which of the best practices should be in legislation? Which should be in regulations? Which should be left to be addressed by self-regulation or just recommended best practices?
Moderator: Anthony Brown, Esq.
Margaret E. Swain, RN, JD, AAAA / Director of ART Practice Group
Michael Doyle, MD, MHB Board
Victoria Ferrara, Esq., Worldwide Surrogacy
Silvia Schneider Fox, PsyD, MHB board member

5:10-6:00 PM: Perspective From Domestic & International Legislation, and Academic Research (Fitzgerald Ballroom)

Comparative legal review of the proposed Child Parent Security Act (CPSA) in New York:
  • How does the CPSA address the major concerns at the heart of the debate?
  • What best practices exist at the CPSA for transparency, protection, independence and other concerns?
  • How does the CPSA compare with legislation elsewhere in the USA?
  • What does the experience of more restrictive legal approaches (such as in the UK and Canada) teach us on the issues of compensation and cooling off periods?
Concerns about Outcomes / Review of Research:
  • What do we know from academic research about the long-term psychological outcomes for all parties: the surrogates, their families, and the resulting surrogacy children?
Moderator: Risa Levine, RESOLVE board member
Denise Seidelman, Esq., Rumbold & Seidelman, LLP
Steven Snyder, Esq., International Assisted Reproduction Center (IARC)
Diane Hinson, Esq., Creative Family Connections
Richard Vaughn, Esq., International Fertility Law Group
Mary Riddle, Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University / Department of Psychology

6:00-7:00 PM: Break / Reception (Astor Hall, lobby level)
(Refreshments will be served)

7:00-8:00 PM: Discussion: the Surrogacy Debate and Our Communities (Fitzgerald Ballroom)

At this session we will have two panels & audience discussions on some myths, judgements and how they affect us.

Panel A:
  • Why don’t you just adopt”?
  • Is surrogacy a “gay issue”?
Moderator: Sherman Taylor, MHB board chair
Risa Levine, RESOLVE board member
Nina Rumbold, Esq., Rumbold & Seidelman, LLP
Brian Esser, Esq, Equality NY
Alexis Cirel, a mother through surrogacy

Panel B:
  • How do judgements and misconceptions affect surrogates, their families, and the families they helped?
  • Does the surrogacy legislation debate contribute to the stigmatizing of surrogates and surrogacy families?
Moderator: Mary Riddle, Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University / Department of Psychology
Stephanie Decampos, former gestational surrogate / CT
Marcy Grazioso, former gestational surrogate / CT
Holly Bearden, former gestational surrogate / TX
Molly Corcoran, former gestational surrogate / CT
Ryleigh Rivas, 19, a child of a surrogate
RJ Green, 18, a child of a surrogate
Elinor Poole-Dayan, 18, a child through surrogacy
Maddie Knöpft, 15, a child through surrogacy

Saturday, November 9:

5:00-9:00 PM: Join the General Conference Programs (Fitzgerald Ballroom)

  • 5:00-5:45 PM: Personal Stories Panel - hear from several surrogates and parents
  • 5:45-6:00 PM: Coffee Break
  • 6:00-7:15 PM: A Mindful Look at Surrogacy - Psychological and Ethical Aspects
  • 7:15-8:00 PM: Teen Panel: surrogacy children of gay dads and a son of a surrogate share their stories
  • 8:00 PM: Happy Hour!


Related reading / resources

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Human Rights Watch and the International Women’s Health Coalition offer input on safeguards for the protection of the rights of children born from surrogacy arrangements
In their submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, the organizations state that "People acting as surrogates... may receive compensation that constitutes fair recompense for lost wages and other opportunity costs, health care and nutrition expenses, and restitution for the significant burdens and risks associated with pregnancy. We submit that such arrangements do not and should not in and of themselves constitute sale of children under the optional protocol.”
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Center for Reproductive Rights: Baseline Guiding Human Rights-Based Principles On Compensated Gestational Surrogacy In The United States
Following a thorough study, the Center for Reproductive Rights posits a set of considerations they consider critical to ensuring that laws and policies on compensated gestational surrogacy in the United States respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of all stakeholders to a surrogacy arrangement. They state that compensated gestational surrogacy implicates core human rights of multiple stakeholders, including persons acting as gestational surrogates, children born of such arrangements, and intended parents. In the United States, legislation authorizing and regulating compensated gestational surrogacy has the potential to ensure legal certainty and the respect, protection, and fulfillment of the human rights of all stakeholders. Such legislation also has the potential to recognize and address power dynamics in compensated gestational surrogacy arrangements that may be rooted in gender, economic, and structural inequalities.
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Men Having Babies: A Framework for Ethical Surrogacy for Intended Parents
As part of our mission to promote surrogacy practices that benefits all involved parties, MHB has developed a framework for ethical surrogacy principles, protocols and best practices for intended parents. The framework was a collaborative process with our Surrogates Advisory Committee and individuals from partnering organizations. The document is already available in English, French, Hebrew, Spanish, German, Italian and Chinese, and received endorsements from LGBT family associations worldwide.
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NY State Task Force on Life and the Law Revisiting Surrogate Parenting: Analysis and Recommendations for Public Policy on Gestational Surrogacy
In December 2017 the Task Force on Life and the Law – consisting of some of New York’s top physicians, ethicists and academics – issued a new report reversing a previous position that was critical of surrogacy. The report contends that “New Yorkers need to have the legally supported capacity to enter into compensated surrogacy arrangements in their home state with the most supportive legal protections that identify, secure, and protect the surrogate, the intended parents, and the child born through surrogacy.”
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The NYT Ethicist: Is It Selfish for a Gay Couple to Have Kids via Surrogacy?
NYU Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah, writing as The New York Times' Ethicist columnistIs, weighs in: While mixing commerce and reproduction carries ethical risks, surrogacy can be done ethically. Meanwhile he sees adoption as a form of voluntarism. While every child awaiting adoption is someone who could benefit from parental volunteers, and it’s no more incumbent on gay couples to do so than it is on any other potential parents.
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YouGov: Americans want biological children but prefer adoption to surrogacy
A nation-wide poll finds that a large majority of Americans (71%) approve of the practice of surrogacy! While people view adoption more favorably than surrogacy, most prefer biological children.
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The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:
Committee Opinion: Family Building Through Gestational Surrogacy

Gestational surrogacy is an increasingly common form of family building that can allow individuals or a couple to become parents despite circumstances in which carrying a pregnancy is biologically impossible or medically contraindicated. Although gestational surrogacy increases options for family building, this treatment also involves ethical, medical, psychosocial, and legal complexities that must be taken into account to minimize risks of adverse outcomes for the gestational carrier, intended parent(s), and resulting children. The Committee Opinion provides an overview of gestational surrogacy and describes the ethical responsibilities for obstetrician–gynecologists who take part in the care of women who participate in these arrangements.
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Opinion: Voluntary ethical surrogacy standards are required for wider international acceptance
Dr. Doyle calls surrogacy and egg donation professionals in the US to fill the void left by lack of regulation. He proposes standards to insure all parties are treated with dignity and respect, physical and psychological risks are minimized, and future consequences to all are considered.
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Several Italian associations call to legalize surrogacy based on the ‘international coalition for surrogacy ethics’
On September 27th, 2016, following their participation in MHB’s Second Annual Conference on Parenting Options for European Gay Men, four Italian associations announced their support for the “international coalition for surrogacy ethics” that was formed at the Brussels conference. The four include Famiglie Arcobaleno (Italy’s LGBT parenting association), Associazione Luca Coscioni, Associazione Radicale Certi Diritti, and UAAR.

About the MHB Advocacy and Research Forum program

The Men Having Babies conferences focus on providing guidance to prospective parents, but they are also a meeting place for many committed surrogacy and gay parenting supporters, including parents, surrogates, researchers, professionals, and policymakers. Indeed, there are no other such opportunities throughout the year where all of these constituencies meet. As the leading resource in surrogacy and LGBT parenting, MHB has been approached over time by community leaders, surrogates and academicians with requests for collaborations and information sharing. The International Advocacy and Research Forums for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting were created in response to these requests, and are held at several of our major conferences worldwide.

Who should attend?

The Advocacy and Research Forum is open to anyone who is interested in benefitting from and / or contributing to an ongoing discussion of the social, ethical, legal and empirical aspects of surrogacy and LGBT parenting. Stakeholders include community activists, researchers, students, surrogates, professionals, legislators, journalists and others. Most of the Forum’s sessions take place concurrent to the guidance sessions of our conferences, and as such they are not designed for intended parents (although they will be free to attend if so desire).