Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Surrogate mothers could be paid more than their expenses under Senate bill

The Legislative Building at the Capitol in Olympia. (Associated Press)

Surrogate mothers could be paid for carrying a child for another couple under a bill that passed the Senate despite criticism that it could turn babies into “commodities like a bushel of wheat or widgets.”

Washington law currently allows women to act as surrogate mothers, but not to receive compensation above the cost of medical and other expenses. A proposed change to the Uniform Parentage Act, which covers a wide range of issues involving parental rights and responsibilities, would allow a surrogate to be paid more than that by the couple who have arranged for her to carry a baby for them.

“The reality is that we have a lot of families in our state that suffer from infertility,” said Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, the bill’s sponsor.

Pedersen and his husband have four children conceived through surrogacy, but had to make the arrangements for the egg donor and surrogate mother in California where compensation is allowed. The women and the children met recently, and it was “a huge joy for us and the women who helped create our family.”

The bill would allow more Washington families to have that experience without leaving the state, he said.

Some of the loudest objections came from Spokane-area senators. Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, tried unsuccessfully to strip the bill of the ability to pay the surrogate mother more than her expenses.

“Are we dealing with commodities, like a bushel of wheat or widgets?” Padden asked, arguing there should at least be some cap on what a surrogate mother could be paid. “We forbid parents from selling their children. We’re buying and selling here.”

Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, said the bill was introducing a “profit motive” into surrogacy that could get complicated if the unborn child has a medical condition that the parents want to abort but the surrogate mother doesn’t, or if, after the birth, the surrogate mother refuses to give up the baby. The European Union has banned paid surrogacy because of complications, he said.

“Once you cross that line of allowing life to be bought and sold, you open up a new Pandora’s box,” Baumgartner said after acknowledging opponents didn’t have the votes to keep the Senate from passing the bill.