I recently spent the day at our state capital, attending a meeting of the Legislative Commission on Surrogacy. Currently, Minnesota has no laws regarding surrogacy. The purpose of the commission is to gather information and data on surrogacy, then make recommendations for policy and law.
The anti-surrogacy commission members are claiming that all surrogates are mentally unstable, poor, uneducated, desperate women being repressed and manipulated by the wealthy. They equate surrogacy with prostitution and claim that surrogates are brainwashed and forced to detach themselves from the pregnancy in order to “sell” the baby to the intended parents after birth. They claim that “surrogacy turns economic and emotionally vulnerable women into a breeder class, subjecting their physical and psychological health to the whims of the wealthy. The practice also treats human life as a commodity that can be bought, sold, or eliminated when no longer desired.”
The first half of this meeting of the commission was spent listening to testimony from witnesses supporting the above position. It was beyond frustrating to have to sit and listen to these inaccurate and ridiculous testimonies and not be able to respond. To sit there and be equated with a prostitute and essentially that I can’t possibly be smart enough to understand what I’ve gotten myself into and that I clearly need the government to protect me from myself was INFURIATING.
Fortunately, the second half of the meeting was spent receiving testimony showing how inaccurate all of the earlier testimonies were. More than 40 Minnesota surrogates filled the room, waiting to give testimony, to tell their personal stories. We were also able to provide real scientific data from a recent US study on surrogacy, showing that surrogates are not poor and uneducated. We also heard testimony from 3 amazing teens/young adults born through surrogacy.
Overall, the meeting was eye-opening as to how frustrating politics can be. I can’t believe that inaccurate and false information can be presented as truth. When did truth and fairness just go out the window? I felt very proud to be there, standing up for family, surrogacy, and women, as well as the truth.
Here is my testimony for the commission:
Madam Chair and Commission Members,
My name is Sarah Irons. I am a 37-year-old mother, wife, and teacher. I am also a gestational surrogate. I am currently matched with an incredibly genuine and kind-hearted couple. I am thrilled to be a part of helping them complete their family. We have had two unsuccessful embryo transfers so far and are now preparing for our third embryo transfer.
I grew up in SW Minneapolis and attended the University of Minnesota where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Family Social Science and a Master’s degree in Family Education. I have been teaching part-time at Edina High School for the past 15 years, teaching our Child Psychology and Elementary Education classes. My husband and I live in Eden Prairie with our four young children. My husband is an investment consultant, we are an upper class family. I am not poor. I am not uneducated.
I heard about surrogacy when I was a teenager and knew that someday, when my own family was complete, I would be a surrogate. I always wanted to be a mom and I would have been completely heartbroken if I would not have been able to have children. I would have hoped that someone would have been willing and able to help me. The days that my children were born were the best days of my life. My dreams came true, I got my happily ever after, and now I am helping another family get their happily ever after. When I think back to the moments when I held my babies for the very first time, the complete and utter happiness that I was feeling, the feeling of my heart exploding with love; and I think about being able to help someone else have those feelings and experience that life changing moment; that’s why I want to be a surrogate, that’s why I am doing it.
Some might wonder how I could give up a baby that I’ve carried for 9 months? Won’t I feel like it’s my baby? Gestational surrogates are not genetically related to the baby. The embryos are created by the parents and/or donors and then transferred to the surrogate via IVF. So, no, I won’t feel like it’s my baby because it’s not my baby. I won’t be giving the baby up; I’ll be giving the baby back. Will I love the baby? Yes! The same way that I love my friends’ babies and my nieces and nephews. I love them, I love hearing how they are doing, I love visiting them – but I certainly don’t want to keep them!
I am not motivated, nor do I need the money paid for my services as a surrogate. I am performing a service from the heart and my motivation is altruistic in nature. I will be paid a reasonable amount for my time, obligations, expenses, and services during the process of becoming pregnant and carrying the intended parents’ pregnancy for them. Just as you are performing a civic duty by serving in the legislature, you are still paid for your time and service despite your altruistic motivation.
I am not being repressed or taken advantage of. My intended parents could not have a child without my help and I sincerely want to help them, just as I would have wanted someone to help me if I hadn’t been able to have children. I am an intelligent, independent woman who is perfectly capable of assessing the risks of a surrogate pregnancy and making my own decision of whether it is appropriate for me to take those risks. I do not need the government to intrude on my personal right to make decisions for myself based on the mistaken perception that I am especially vulnerable simply because I am a woman.
When I began my surrogacy journey, I did an enormous amount of research, I discussed it with my OB, and I met with multiple surrogacy agencies and reproductive endocrinologists. I completed a psychological and medical evaluation. Based on my research and results, I chose to move forward. I feel very competent in my ability to make this choice. I do not need the government to “protect me from myself”. I take great offense to the thinking that I am not capable of educating myself and making my own choices and decisions.
I view surrogacy as one of many family building options for the millions of men and women who want to have children but can’t. Having children is a fundamental life function and anyone struggling with the disease of infertility or childlessness should have options as to how they build their family, just as I did and just as most of you did. Families choosing surrogacy have often gone to incredible lengths and many have endured so much heartache on their path to parenthood. All to have a family; to love their child. Infertility is not going away; surrogacy is not going away. Therefore, it is important to have legislation in place that protects those involved. As a legislator, I know that you work to protect your constituents. Reasonable regulations surrounding surrogacy is the best way to protect intended parents, surrogates, as well as the children involved. I strongly believe that gestational surrogacy should be a protected and reasonably regulated process in MN and I urge the commission to make that recommendation.
If you have any questions or would like to speak with me further, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Do I look political? 😉