Massachusetts Bill Would Make Surrogacy Easier to Help Same-Sex Couples Raising Children

Bill Would Also Jettison Terms Like ‘Father,’ ‘Mother’ and ‘Paternity’

Faust opposes all kinds of surrogacy, which she says divides the traditional roles of a mother into at least two, and possibly, three separate persons — egg donor, gestational carrier and caregiver — to the detriment of the child.
Faust opposes all kinds of surrogacy, which she says divides the traditional roles of a mother into at least two, and possibly, three separate persons — egg donor, gestational carrier and caregiver — to the detriment of the child. (photo: UzFoto / Shutterstock)

A bill designed to make same-sex parenting easier and remove assumptions about traditional families is moving through the Massachusetts Legislature.

The Massachusetts Parentage Equality Act, as the measure is known, is meant to ensure that each member of a same-sex couple has automatic parenting rights concerning a child they begin raising together.

"In the LGBTQ community, by definition, always one of the parents is a non-bio parent,” said Arline Isaacson, according to State House News Service, which covers state government in Massachusetts.

“So we’ve got to fix these laws to protect our families because, right now, the state of affairs is so messed up we actually have to adopt our own children, which takes money, and it takes time, even if you have a bio parent in the relationship, which is a crazy system,” said Isaacson, a lawyer, activist and co-chairwoman of the Massachusetts GLBTQ Political Caucus.

The bill also proposes language changes in state law to remove references to sex-specific roles in a family and any presumption that a family consists of: a married father and mother and their children.

Some examples: “Mother” becomes “person who gave birth”; “father” becomes “other parent”; “man and woman” becomes “persons”; “paternity” becomes “parentage”; “child born out of wedlock” becomes “nonmarital child”; “his” becomes “their” when referring to a single person; “her” becomes “their” when referring to a single person; and “himself” becomes “themselves” when referring to a single person.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed the bill 156-0 on June 12. The Massachusetts Senate has not scheduled a vote on the bill.


The bill also would loosen current regulations on surrogacy in the state, allowing mothers to sign a surrogacy agreement after a baby is conceived and even if the child wasn’t conceived with the help of a fertility clinic.

Surrogacy plays a major role for same-sex couples seeking to raise children, as same-sex couples aren’t able to conceive a child together and so often turn to surrogacy to have a child that is genetically linked to at least one of the pair.

The 41-page bill before the state Legislature mentions “surrogacy” or a word with the same root 160 times.

Surrogacy nowadays typically involves in vitro fertilization, in which an embryo is conceived in a petri dish by bringing together sperm from a man and an egg from a woman. It’s the most common form of what is known as “assisted reproductive technology”: conceiving a baby outside of sexual intercourse.

About 2.3% of all babies born in the United States in 2021 were conceived through assisted reproductive technology, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s about 86,000 of the approximately 3.68 million babies born that year.

Massachusetts has the highest percentage in the country, about 5.4% that year, or 3,717 babies of the 69,137 born.


Patience Griswold, writing in The Federalist earlier last month, pinpointed two passages from the parentage bill that she says would break new ground in surrogacy.

One passage (Section 28N(b)), she says, would allow “if all parties agree” what the bills call “a genetic surrogacy agreement” after a child has been conceived but before the child is born, a scenario she describes as “baby-selling.”

Another passage (Section 28M(d)), she says, would allow payment for “a child born to a genetic surrogate … alleged not to have been conceived by assisted reproduction” meaning conceived through sexual intercourse.

“That’s to say, this bill could allow a woman to accept money in exchange for sex as long as she conceives and then relinquishes her parental rights so the father could raise the child, thus combining both prostitution and child trafficking in one terrible clause,” writes Griswold, the engagement coordinator of Them Before Us, a children’s rights organization.

Katy Faust, founder and president of Them Before Us, told the Register the Massachusetts bill could allow making money from legally transferring a baby conceived through sexual intercourse to a third party.

“So, really, what this is, is prostitution, unless the prostitution results in a baby, in which case it’s no longer prostitution but helping somebody build a family,” Faust said. “You can shack up, conceive and sell the baby.”

Faust opposes all kinds of surrogacy, which she says divides the traditional roles of a mother into at least two, and possibly, three separate persons — egg donor, gestational carrier and caregiver — to the detriment of the child.

“It’s all child loss. But what makes this bill different is that it’s blurring the very thin lines that the industry has set for itself,” Faust told the Register by telephone. “It’s indistinguishable from child trafficking at this point.”

Massachusetts state Rep. Hannah Kane, R-Shrewsbury, one of the principal sponsors of the bill, told the Register such criticisms aren’t warranted.

Kane, who spoke on the floor of the House before the vote June 12 about how she hopes her lesbian daughter can use similar provisions to have her own family some day in the future, told the Register that the bill will help families, not hurt them.

“While it is understandable for people to have questions about this legislation, we need not look far to see what is being alleged hasn’t happened in other states with these basic protections. This bill creates clear guidelines for establishing legal parentage for children born through surrogacy and will protect people acting as surrogates. It ensures that Massachusetts law has best-practice provisions to ensure the protection of children, parents, and people acting as surrogates,” Kane told the Register by email.

What Does the Church Say?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church condemns both in vitro fertilization and surrogacy as immoral. Techniques used to conceive a baby outside the womb “dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act,” the Catechism states (2376), adding that “the act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another.”

In January 2024, Pope Francis condemned surrogacy during a speech to foreign ambassadors and called on the international community “to prohibit this practice universally.”

“The path to peace calls for respect for life, for every human life, starting with the life of the unborn child in the mother’s womb, which cannot be suppressed or turned into an object of trafficking. In this regard, I deem deplorable the practice of so-called surrogate motherhood, which represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother’s material needs,” Pope Francis said. “A child is always a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract.”