So last year there was a bill in the Washington State Legislature that would have allowed for compensated surrogagies in cases of medical necessity in the state of WA. I think I forgot to mention, in most states that allow for surrogacy there has to be a reason that makes it medically necessary. It passed in the house, but got buried in the senate and never came up for a vote. We heard from a lawyer we met with in Seattle that the state Rep. is going to bring it up again for a vote this year. We don't want to wait that long for us, it could ultimately take a couple years, but I wrote the congressman an e-mail supporting his efforts. You know me, can't just do things quietly, but also have to work to make it better for others. Well, based on my e-mail he invited me to testify before the WA state senate and house! How cool is that? Here's my e-mail and his response below:
Dear Representative Pedersen,
My husband Aaron and I live in the 41st Legislative district, and the 8th Congressional district. I know you are in the 43rd district, however we are contacting you after speaking with Raegen Rasnic about surrogacy and the surrogacy laws in Washington state. I read with interest HB 2793, a bill you and 9 collegues sponsored. Looking at the history of the bill it seems like it got stuck in the Senate in committee.
I have a medical condition that makes it unsafe for me to carry a pregnancy, both for me, and for the developing fetus. My husband and I have been researching gestational surrogacy since January of this year, and after much prayer, discussion and thought have decided that gestational surrogacy is the way for us to become parents. Unfortunately, we do not have any family members or close friends who can carry a pregnancy for us. It is very much of a challenge and a hardship on us that Washington State does not allow compenstated gestational surrogacy. Right now we are searching for IVF clinics, surrogacy agencies and lawyers in the Portland area to assist us on our journey, however to do so from the Seattle area is very difficult. We will be making many trips to Oregon over the next several months to interview doctors, agencies and lawyers. Then we will make trips to meet with surrogates. Then when we find a surrogate I will need to spend more than a week in Portland to prepare my body for ovum retrieval. Then we will travel back and forth for doctors appointments with our surrogate. I'm not complaining; indeed I think any journey towards parentage rather through traditional means, adoption or surrogacy has it's share of twists, turns and adventures (personally, I think it's all to prepare people for the trials and tribulations of eventually living with teenagers ;>!). Nonetheless, Washington State could make our journey so much easier by removing the barrier to compensated gestational surrogates.
I think what has been hardest in this journey is first discovering my illness, then realizing that I would never get the joy of being pregnant myself. It was absolutely devestating for someone who always wanted to have a house full of children. And with the distance between here and Oregon, the opportunities for my husband and I to experience the beautiful process of a pregnancy with our child through another woman is going to be limited. We won't be able to be at every doctor's appointment. We won't get to see every ultrasound first hand. We won't get to see a pregnant belly slowly growing week by week. How many parents cry during the first ultrasound showing a beating heart, or anxiously wait for their weekly check-ups towards the end of pregnancy where doctors let them know everything is ok? How many could sit for hours with a hand placed on a pregnant belly, feeling the fluttering of the tiny growing child? If I could, I would visit the woman carrying our child as often as possible. I would take many pictures and write journal entries so that when my child is old enough to ask what it was like when they were growing in "another woman's tummy" I would have great stories for them and pictures to share. However, with the distance we will have to travel to visit our surrogate I don't know how much of that is going to be possible; certainly not enough to fill our desire to know our child and support our surrogate. Of course, besides the emotional impact and desire to bond, support and nuture both the growing child and the wonderful woman who will carry our child, there are also all of the concerns of the possibilities of emergencies during the pregnancy when we are hours away.
We heard from Raegen that you plan to reintroduce this bill during the coming legislative session. I know with the midterm elections there will be some changes in the make up of congress and more than likely changes in those in congress who have previously shown support for your legislation. I don't know if there's anything we can do to assist with the passage of this bill, but if you need people willing to go to capitol hill and talk to legislators or talk to committee members we would be more than happy to talk about our situation. Honestly it boils down to two people who desperately want to bring a child into the world to love, and want to use the medical advances available to them in a way that's legal in other states and currently isn't legal in this state. I don't know if our story would make a difference, but if it would, we would be happy to share.
Dear Ms. Sparks-Keeney –
Thank you so much for your message and for sharing your story with me. I hope that you will share it with your 41st district legislators as well before the start of the next legislative session. If you are available, I would love to have you come and testify on the bill next session. I’ll try to remember to check in with you in December, but if you haven’t heard from me, please don’t be bashful about contacting me. We’ll have a decent amount of notice about timing in the House, since I chair the relevant committee and get to schedule the bill (unless we lose the majority). The Senate will be dicier and the timing harder – but that is actually where we will need the help more. Anyway, thanks again for the offer of support. We will need it!
Representative Jamie Pedersen
43rd Legislative District