America’s blue states are pushing a toxic admixture of free-market ideology and misogyny under the false label of “emancipation.” California and New York are widely considered progressive, yet Democratic lawmakers at the local and state levels are backing (at least) two “reforms” that would result in harm to women and girls: namely, commercial surrogacy and the legalization of pimping and brothel ownership. In so doing, they send out a message that men’s lives and rights matter far more than those of women, and that the free market is a place where women’s bodies can be bought and sold.

“Blue states are pushing a toxic admixture of free-market ideology and misogyny.”

Let’s start with surrogacy. On April 3, 2020, legislators in Albany passed the Child-Parent Security Act, or CPSA, making commercial or “compensated” surrogacy legal in the Empire State. Similar laws are also in place in 46 other US states, and even Republicans are divided on the question. “Compensated surrogacy will be legal in New York in February of 2021!” read the surrogate agency Circle Surrogacy’s jubilant advert. But to those who consider commercial surrogacy to be dangerous and exploitative for the vulnerable and mostly economically disadvantaged women involved, the CPSA has effectively sanctioned the pimping of pregnancy, and as demand for surrogate mothers rises, so does the likelihood that women will be coerced into it by abusive husbands or boyfriends or fee-skimming middlemen.

New York law allows for commercial gestational surrogacy, in which the birth mother doesn’t contribute any of her own genetic material, and for commissioning parents to be named on the birth certificate. Under this legislation, if the birth mother changes her mind and wishes to keep the child, she will have no legal right to do so. The law also requires that a baby resulting from a surrogate pregnancy be born in New York—but not that the surrogate mother be a New York resident.

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