During a meeting of the senate government operations committee this afternoon, Sens. Don Benton (R-17, Vancouver) and Dan Swecker (R-20, Rochester) sought to delay the passage of Rep. Jamie Pedersen's (D-43, Seattle) bill to regulate paid surrogacy with 26 amendments that sought to create protections for children born via surrogacy through judicial review of surrogate contracts prior to conception.

After rejecting the parade of amendments, committee chair Craig Pridemore (D-49, Vancouver) argued that the proposed amendments would have only added "more ambiguity and less clarity" to the lives of children born through surrogacy. The committee ultimately passed the legislation in a 6-2 vote.

The Pedersen bill would legalize and regulate paid surrogacy by: requiring both parties to sign a legal contract; mandating that the surrogate mother be at least 21 years of age; mandating that the surrogate mother have health insurance; and granting the surrogate mother control of all medical decisions during her pregnancy. After a similar wave of antagonistic amendments, the controversial legislation passed out of the house in early March on a party line vote.

Senators Swecker and Benton's string of amendments included some technical fixes, some clear monkey-wrenches to delay the bill's passage, and some substantive suggestions to ensure the child is born into a "loving" environment. One amendment would have required a family law court to make a ruling on whether a child is born into a safe environment at least 60 days before conception. Sen. Swecker argued that the committee needed to "do the right thing" and pass the amendment to provide more legal protection for the child. Another proposal sought to bar women who are receiving or are eligible to receive federal or state economic assistance from serving as surrogates.

Backing up Swecker, Benton said that the bill as it currently stood included "no protection for the child"--- unlike current foster and adoption laws. "There's nothing to keep someone from going down and signing up for 15 or 20 children and using them as slave labor for the next 15 years to 20 years," Sen. Benton argued, though he admitted, "that's a stretch."

Sen. Benton also warned that the Pedersen bill would make Washington a "magnet" for paid surrogacy. Sen. Pridemore responded: "This is not bold new territory," noting that numerous other states allow paid surrogacy.

In his final remarks, Benton vehemently attacked the committee's process. "It is troubling to me that we have a bill that is over 40 pages [...] and we normally look for corrections, whether they be technical or substantive, and in both case this committee has turned down every attempt to clarify this bill." The bill passed out of the committee with no changes to the house version. He added, "I'll leave that to the audience and to the public to decide why that is."

The committee also passed out Rep. Laurie Jinkins' (D-27, Tacoma) bill to recognize gay marriages from other states as domestic partnerships here in Washington---an improvement over the current law, which recognize neither gay marriages nor civil unions from other states.
Filed under
Show Comments