Senate ‘Gestational Carrier’ bill advances

TRENTON – The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens committee released a bill authorizing gestational carrier agreements in New Jersey by a 7-0-2 vote today.

S1599, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-19), Woodbridge, is known as the “New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act.”

Unlike traditional surrogacy, where a woman is artificially inseminated with the semen of the intended father and gives birth to a child through the use of her own egg, the gestational carrier in a gestational carrier agreement does not make use of her own egg and therefore is not genetically related to the child, according to the legislation.

The bill would amend the state’s definitions of a parent and child relationship to include intended parents pursuant to a valid gestational carrier agreement. It would also amend a state statute to provide that a valid gestational carrier agreement can serve as an evidence of paternity. The intended parent’s name would also appear on the child’s birth certificate as the parent of the child.

The bill would also outline guidelines for who can carry the fetus for the parents, as well as outline the requirements of a written agreement.

Melissa Brisman, an attorney who handles gestational carrier cases, said it’s not a Democratic or Republican issue, noting that one of Mitt Romney’s sons has three children from a gestational carrier agreement. But that didn’t stop two Republicans on the committee from abstaining from the vote.

“We started doing this in Massachusetts in 2001,” Brisman said. “We are way behind the times in New Jersey.”

Donald Cofsky of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys also spoke in favor of the legislation.

“In New Jersey, we’re now operating under laws over a quarter of a century old,” Cofsky said. “We have a parentage act that hasn’t been touched in 20 years…medicine has moved on, technology has moved on…and yet our law is languished.”

Senators Dawn Marie Addiego, (R-8), Evesham, and Samuel Thompson, (R-12), Old Bridge, abstained from the vote.

Senators Fred Madden, (D-4), Washington; Diane Allen, (R-7), Edgewater Park; Barbara Buono, (D-18), Metuchen; Robert Gordon, (D-38), Fair Lawn; Ronald Rice, (D-28), Newark, and Vitale voted to release the bill.

Bill establishing moratorium on new emergency helicopters advances

S1261, also sponsored by Vitale, was released by a 9-0 vote.

The bill would impose a moratorium on the licensing of any new emergency medical service helicopter response unit pending the evaluation and report of the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services concerning the regulations that govern the operations of emergency medical service helicopter response units in New Jersey, according to the bill. 

Senate ‘Gestational Carrier’ bill advances