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The Washington House approved a bill late Monday that aims to clarify the requirements under which women may become surrogate mothers.
The bill, which passed 57-41, establishes specific provisions to allow women to enter into surrogacy contracts for compensation and seeks to increase protection for surrogate mothers. It was sponsored by Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle.
Rep. Mark Miloscia, D-Federal Way, introduced a slew of unsuccessful amendments, arguing that the underlying bill doesn't do enough to protect the rights of surrogate mothers and doesn't assign adequate value to the work of what he termed "vulnerable women."
Supporters say they're confident the bill includes all necessary protections, particularly requirements for independent counsel and health insurance coverage.
Miloscia vehemently argued that the bill would put women in an "unfair bargaining position," and compared the situation to labor negotiations, saying that surrogate mothers deserve at least as much protection as other workers.
"Who are we going to put first -- the health of the mother and her baby, or the economics of the deal being negotiated?" he said. "The potential risks are too great, and the oversight too little."
Another of Miloscia's amendments would have excluded undocumented immigrants from eligibility for surrogacy contracts, out of concern that human traffickers would seek out immigrants and exploit them for the monetary compensation.
Opponents of the bill brought up the potential for women in desperate financial situations to choose to become "surrogates for hire" for the money, not because it was a good decision for them.
"The underlying bill already provides that nothing in any surrogacy contract can be interpreted as interfering with a surrogate mother's decisions regarding her health and welfare and ability to make all decisions related to her pregnancy," Pedersen responded.
Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle, asked House members to trust women to make up their own minds about whether they wish to become pregnant.
The measure would also change the language of the current law to specifically reference domestic partnerships in the provisions related to parentage.
The bill now goes to the Senate.