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The SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting

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What is the position of leading human rights organizations?
What does academic research show about medical and psychological outcomes?
Is surrogacy a “gay issue,” a women’s rights issue, both, or more?
What do medical, psychological, and legal experts recommend?
What do surrogacy children think about claims that they were “sold”?

About the MHB Advocacy and Research Forum program


The Men Having Babies conferences focus on providing guidance to prospective parents, but they are also a meeting place for many committed surrogacy and gay parenting supporters, including parents, surrogates, researchers, professionals, and policymakers. Indeed, there are no other such opportunities throughout the year where all of these constituencies meet. As the leading resource in surrogacy and LGBT parenting, MHB has been approached over time by community leaders, surrogates and academicians with requests for collaborations and information sharing. The International Advocacy and Research Forums for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting were created in response to these requests, and are held at several of our major conferences worldwide.

Who should attend?

The Advocacy and Research Forum is open to anyone who is interested in benefitting from and / or contributing to an ongoing discussion of the social, ethical, legal and empirical aspects of surrogacy and LGBT parenting. Stakeholders include community activists, researchers, students, surrogates, professionals, legislators, journalists and others. Most of the Forum’s sessions take place concurrent to the guidance sessions of our conferences, and as such they are not designed for intended parents (although they will be free to attend if so desire).

Venue

Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel,
609 Sutter Street, San Francisco

Registration

The program is open to the public free of charge, but requires registration.

People who already registered for the January 17-19 SF MHB conference need not register for the forum separately, however RSVP is recommended to team@menhavingbabies.org.

Forum attendees are also invited to join the general MHB conference’s Saturday afternoon session on ethical, social and psychological aspect of surrogacy (see below).

Agenda


Friday, January 17:

3:30-4:00 PM: Registration

4:00-6:00 PM: Opening Session (Regimental Room, 10th Floor)

Overview of surrogacy related debates and our community:

  • Major concerns underlying ethical issues that manifest in the legal and social debates about surrogacy
  • How surrogacy legislation and social discourse were shaped by the adoption prism
  • Using a Reproductive Justice framework to address surrogacy policy and practice
  • The Surrogacy question and the LGBTQ community
Moderator: Ron Poole-Dayan, MHB Executive Director
Panelists:
  • Emily Galpern, MPH, Consultant, Center for Genetics and Society
  • Joshua Gamson, PhD, Assistant Dean & Professor of Sociology at the University of San Francisco
  • Catherine Sakimura, Esq. | Deputy Director & Family Law Director at National Center for Lesbian Rights
  • Steven Snyder, Esq., International Assisted Reproduction Center (IARC)
Overview of academic research on Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting:
  • Major research questions across the various academic disciplines
  • Broad overview of findings of past research, and updates on recent studies
  • Studies in the pipeline, and possible future research questions
Presenters:
  • Robert-Jay Green, PhD, Distinguished Professor Emeritus California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP)
  • Silvia Schneider Fox, PsyD, MHB board member

Saturday, January 18:

8:15-9:00 AM: Registration / 10th Floor

9:15-10:30 AM: In-depth Legislative / Advocacy Session (Heritage Room, 10th Floor)

- Should we use different frameworks to address surrogacy in the USA and Canada vs. surrogacy in developing countries?
- Trends across several national / international legislative developments.
- Follow-up discussion of the underlying ethical issues raised on Friday:

  • Concerns about protecting surrogates against exploitation
  • Objections to compensation / restitution
  • The timing and scope of consent
  • Concerns about outcomes: medical risk, well being of all parties
  • Other challenges to social norms (family structures, gender roles / status, etc.)
10:30-11:00 AM: Coffee break

11:00 AM-12:30 PM: In-depth Research Session (Heritage Room, 10th Floor)
  • Presentations of findings of several recent studies (some not yet published)
  • Descriptions of ongoing studies by various groups individuals
  • Research questions that can help shed light on social / legislative debates
12:30-2:00 PM: Lunch / gay parenting resource fair

2:00-4:00 PM: Surrogate Advisory Committee (Library, 11th Floor)
  • Open discussion: how surrogates can become involved
4:00-8:30 PM: Join the general conference programs:
  • 4:00-5:00 PM: Coffee break / gay parenting resource fair
  • 5:00-5:45 PM: Personal stories panel - hear from several surrogates and parents.
  • 5:45-6:00 PM: Coffee break
  • 6:00-7:15 PM: A mindful look at surrogacy - Psychological and Ethical aspects.
  • 7:15-8:00 PM: Teen Panel: Surrogacy children of gay dads share their stories
  • 8:00 PM: Happy Hour for parents / prospective parents.

Sunday, January 19:

8:15-9:00 AM: Registration

9:00-10:00 AM: MHB-led initiatives to promote ethical surrogacy (Heritage Room, 10th Floor)

  • The Model for Ethical Surrogacy Compensation
  • The development of a toolkit for expanding IVF and surrogacy benefits at workplaces
  • The development of a Surrogacy & LGBT Parenting Advocacy Library of research, position papers and other related articles
10:00-10:45 AM: The Surrogacy360 project (Heritage Room, 10th Floor)

Hear more about the Center for Genetics and Society’s project
Surrogacy360, an online resource to provide accurate information about the complexities and challenges of international commercial surrogacy. Surrogacy360 includes:
Presenter: Marcy Darnovsky, PhD, Executive Director, Center for Genetics and Society

10:45-11:00 AM: Coffee break

11:00-11:45: Optional: time for work groups / committee meetings
  • Next steps…


Related reading / resources


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Men Having Babies: A Framework for Ethical Surrogacy for Intended Parents
As part of our mission to promote surrogacy practices that benefits all involved parties, MHB has developed a framework for ethical surrogacy principles, protocols and best practices for intended parents. The framework was a collaborative process with our Surrogates Advisory Committee and individuals from partnering organizations. The document is already available in English, French, Hebrew, Spanish, German, Italian and Chinese, and received endorsements from LGBT family associations worldwide.
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Surrogacy360: Recommended standards and principles for engaging in international commercial surrogacy
Center for Genetics and Society’s project Surrogacy360 offers online resources to provide accurate information about the complexities and challenges of international commercial surrogacy. The standards and principles they developed are meant to help intended parents advocate for an arrangement that will better safeguard the health and rights of all parties involved.
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MHB Presents: How to Ensure Your Surrogacy Journey Abroad is Safe, Legal and Ethical
Considering going outside of the United States or Canada for your surrogacy journey? Before you do, read MHB's guidelines for safe and ethical surrogacy practices to protect yourself, your surrogate, and your future child. The guidelines, developed by an independent legal advisory committee, recommends what intended parents should take into consideration when considering surrogacy abroad, and whom should they consult with.
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Human Rights Watch and the International Women’s Health Coalition offer input on safeguards for the protection of the rights of children born from surrogacy arrangements
In their submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, the organizations state that "People acting as surrogates... may receive compensation that constitutes fair recompense for lost wages and other opportunity costs, health care and nutrition expenses, and restitution for the significant burdens and risks associated with pregnancy. We submit that such arrangements do not and should not in and of themselves constitute sale of children under the optional protocol.”
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Center for Reproductive Rights: Baseline Guiding Human Rights-Based Principles On Compensated Gestational Surrogacy In The United States
Following a thorough study, the Center for Reproductive Rights posits a set of considerations they consider critical to ensuring that laws and policies on compensated gestational surrogacy in the United States respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of all stakeholders to a surrogacy arrangement. They state that compensated gestational surrogacy implicates core human rights of multiple stakeholders, including persons acting as gestational surrogates, children born of such arrangements, and intended parents. In the United States, legislation authorizing and regulating compensated gestational surrogacy has the potential to ensure legal certainty and the respect, protection, and fulfillment of the human rights of all stakeholders. Such legislation also has the potential to recognize and address power dynamics in compensated gestational surrogacy arrangements that may be rooted in gender, economic, and structural inequalities.
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The NYT Ethicist: Is It Selfish for a Gay Couple to Have Kids via Surrogacy?
NYU Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah, writing as The New York Times' Ethicist columnistIs, weighs in: While mixing commerce and reproduction carries ethical risks, surrogacy can be done ethically. Meanwhile he sees adoption as a form of voluntarism. While every child awaiting adoption is someone who could benefit from parental volunteers, and it’s no more incumbent on gay couples to do so than it is on any other potential parents.
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YouGov: Americans want biological children but prefer adoption to surrogacy
A nation-wide poll finds that a large majority of Americans (71%) approve of the practice of surrogacy! While people view adoption more favorably than surrogacy, most prefer biological children.
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The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:
Committee Opinion: Family Building Through Gestational Surrogacy

Gestational surrogacy is an increasingly common form of family building that can allow individuals or a couple to become parents despite circumstances in which carrying a pregnancy is biologically impossible or medically contraindicated. Although gestational surrogacy increases options for family building, this treatment also involves ethical, medical, psychosocial, and legal complexities that must be taken into account to minimize risks of adverse outcomes for the gestational carrier, intended parent(s), and resulting children. The Committee Opinion provides an overview of gestational surrogacy and describes the ethical responsibilities for obstetrician–gynecologists who take part in the care of women who participate in these arrangements.
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Opinion: Voluntary ethical surrogacy standards are required for wider international acceptance
Dr. Doyle calls surrogacy and egg donation professionals in the US to fill the void left by lack of regulation. He proposes standards to insure all parties are treated with dignity and respect, physical and psychological risks are minimized, and future consequences to all are considered.
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Several Italian associations call to legalize surrogacy based on the ‘international coalition for surrogacy ethics’
On September 27th, 2016, following their participation in MHB’s Second Annual Conference on Parenting Options for European Gay Men, four Italian associations announced their support for the “international coalition for surrogacy ethics” that was formed at the Brussels conference. The four include Famiglie Arcobaleno (Italy’s LGBT parenting association), Associazione Luca Coscioni, Associazione Radicale Certi Diritti, and UAAR.