Asw. Huttle: Bill Would Protect Couples, Gestational Carriers and Baby

Mary Alice Williams NJTV

On the frontier of assisted-reproduction technology a bill that’s passed the Legislature would provide new protections for couples struggling to conceive children. They’d be allowed to enter legally binding agreements with “gestational carriers” — surrogates who do not share the child’s DNA but agree to carry the fetus to term. Lawmakers said the bill aims to protect both sides — the parents and the surrogate mothers. Opponents say by sanctioning gestational carriers, the state would be leading women to “commercialize” their wombs. Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a similar bill three years ago, saying the issue raised “profound” questions the Legislature had not fully explored. Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that gestational carriers and traditional surrogates are the same and that it is legal in New Jersey.

“I just want to make clear that a gestational carrier is carrying someone else’s egg,” said Huttle. “It is not genetically connected to that person and I will say that being that … it is being done. We need to catch up with the law and provide safeguards for the intended parents, the carrier and the child.”

Huttle said that the bill would protect both sides. With the agreement, the gestational carrier would be psychologically evaluated, she would have to have one prior pregnancy, would have to be 21 years of age or older and have an attorney to provide counsel, according to Huttle.

Once the child is born, the intended parents would have their names on the birth certificate. Huttle said that the gestational carrier would be protected as saying that she is providing the service or the assistance of carrying the child.

“The gestational carrier would be protected as saying, ‘I am just providing the service or the assistance of the reproductive technology that quite frankly couples need,'” Huttle said. “LGBT supports it, New Jersey Bar supports it and to me to provide the safeguards and legal protection is what we need so there is no controversy over what happens if the child — because it also protects the child — if the child is born with a disability, the intended parent has that responsibility and right to raise that child and to provide for that child.”

Christie had vetoed a similar bill three years ago, but Huttle said that there is more support for the bill in the Legislature than it had years ago.

“I will tell you this, he did veto it several years ago and what he did say was New Jersey is not ready,” said Huttle. “I would tell you fast forward, we have more support in the Assembly and the Senate and again the law must keep up with this reproductive technology that is happening today. We have more support than ever because couples want to have a family and they want to have protective right that it is their child.”