MA Bill would allow women to sell their unborn children

On June 12, the Massachusetts House is expected to vote on a bill that would allow mothers to trade their children for money — that is, engage in the business of selling babies — under the name “parental equality.”

The Parenting Equality Bill seeks to redefine parenthood. Parenthood is recognized on its natural biological basis, or, in the case of adoption, justice for a child who has suffered loss by providing a safe, loving home. This bill redefines it based on “a person’s intent to be a parent of a child.” Doing so removes all mention of mothers and fathers from parenting rights and replaces these crucial familial roles with gender-erased language.

Finally, and most concerning, under H.4672, Massachusetts would allow commercial surrogacy both in cases where the woman carrying the child is genetically unrelated to the child, and in cases where she exchanges her biological child for money.

The Parentage Equality Act legalizes the sale of babies

Surrogacy is an inherently exploitative practice. It turns women into commodities and treats children like products. This specific bill makes particularly extreme arrangements possible. Most commercial surrogacy laws and surrogacy agencies limit contracts to cases where the woman carrying the child is not genetically related to the child. Under genetic surrogacy arrangements, which this bill would sanction, a woman would be allowed to accept money in exchange for her biological child.

In all other circumstances, if a woman accepts money in exchange for transferring her parental claim to her child, she is guilty of selling babies. Under this bill, if she has entered into a valid surrogacy contract, she can do just that, even if she makes the arrangement with the purchasing parents after she becomes pregnant, provided the contract is ratified before the child is born.

Under H. 4672, the following would be perfectly legal: A woman undergoes the physical and mental health exams necessary to become a surrogate mother, becomes pregnant via sperm from a sperm bank, and then posts on a surrogacy forum or social media group that she is pregnant. not only available as a surrogate, but already pregnant.

She could then choose to “match” with the couple willing to pay the highest “consideration,” essentially auctioning off her child. As long as the surrogacy agreement meets the requirements set forth in the bill, it can be ratified by a court and considered not only permissible, but also legally binding. However, if that same woman became pregnant and decided to enter into an agreement with a couple to adopt her child, while insisting that she be paid for placing her child with them, she would be prosecuted for selling babies.

The differences between these two scenarios are semantic, but one scenario would not only be legal and hailed as “compassionate family building,” but if she were to hand the baby over to a same-sex couple, it would be a step toward ending discrimination. The other case, on the other hand, would be portrayed as child trafficking, despite actually producing the same result.

No matter how many proponents of surrogacy use it, accepting money in exchange for a child is always wrong.

Surrogacy laws have a history of abuse

Before naysayers object that the above scenario sounds far-fetched, we have already seen that the sale of children takes place under the cloak of surrogacy. In 2011, three California women were convicted of running an illegal baby sales ring under the guise of a surrogacy agency.

Although the women violated California surrogacy laws, the existence of legal surrogacy in California allowed them to operate undetected for years. As Dr. David Smolin has noted, this case would not have been possible without California’s surrogacy law allowing the names of unrelated adults to be listed on a child’s birth certificate without any adoption proceedings.

One of the most critical aspects of the scandal was that the women running the baby sales organization filed fraudulent court documents stating that the agreements had been made before the pregnancy. The FBI’s statement on the case reiterated that a surrogacy agreement must be in place before surrogacy begins. Imagine how bad actors could abuse a law that allows surrogacy agreements after the pregnancy has begun.

Potential for money in exchange for sex

What is even more disturbing is that section 28N(d) of the bill addresses the scenario in which a surrogate child would have been conceived not through assisted reproduction, but naturally. In this case, the court would order a genetic test to determine a child’s parentage. However, the bill states:

(If the second genetic source is an intended parent, the court, in its discretion, may make a determination of parentage under sections 1 through 27 of this chapter. Unless the genetic surrogacy agreement provides otherwisethe genetic surrogate mother is not entitled to non-cost-related compensation for acting as a surrogate mother if the child was not conceived through assisted reproduction. (Emphasis added.)

In other words, at the discretion of the courts, a surrogacy agreement may be considered valid in cases where a woman agrees to conceive the child naturally with the intended father, that is, by having sex with him. By providing that “unless the genetic surrogacy agreement provides otherwise,” the bill leaves open the possibility of a surrogate mother being paid in addition to cost-related compensation in this scenario.

That is to say, this bill could allow a woman to accept money in exchange for sex as long as she becomes pregnant and then gives up her parental rights so that the father can raise the child – thus bringing both prostitution and child trafficking into one terrible clause combined.

What further abuses could this bill enable? Forced surrogacy is not a hypothetical problem. Yet there can be invisible exploitation of both women and children as long as the weak requirements for a surrogacy arrangement are met.

Women and children are not commodities. Children have the right to be born free, not to be bought and sold. No amount of sappy language can disguise the fact that the “Parental Equality” law monetizes women’s bodies and turns children into commodities. The women and children of Massachusetts deserve better.


Patience Griswold is the engagement coordinator at Them Before Us, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of children.