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Michigan governor signs bill decriminalizing paid surrogacy

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed a bill Monday legalizing paid surrogacy, arguing the controversial practice enables people to start families more easily.

The Michigan Family Protection Act also establishes legal protections for in vitro fertilization (IVF), a practice that has been in the political spotlight since it was briefly banned by a court in Alabama in February.

“Decisions about if, when, and how to have a child should be left to a family, their doctor, and those they love and trust, not politicians,” Whitmer said in a statement. “If we want more people and families to ‘make it’ in Michigan, we need to support them with the resources they need to make these deeply personal, life-changing choices.”

“Your family’s decisions should be up to you, and my legislative partners and I will keep fighting like hell to protect reproductive freedom in Michigan and make our state the best place to start, raise, and grow your family,” she added.

With the new law, paid surrogacy is now only illegal in Nebraska and Louisiana. The new Michigan law allows surrogate mothers to be compensated for carrying a child and provides them with legal protections throughout the process. The law also requires that surrogates receive medical screening.

Compensation for surrogacy has been opposed by some conservatives, especially religious conservatives, who argue it exploits the act of childbearing for profit. Pope Francis said in January that the practice should be banned outright.

“I consider despicable 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,” he said.

Saying a child is a gift and “never the basis of a commercial contract,” he called for a global ban on surrogacy “to prohibit this practice universally.”

A similar bill in Congress to protect IVF procedures, which also included the legalization of surrogacy, was blocked by the Senate GOP earlier this year. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) said the legislation is an overreach full of “poison pills” that would go far beyond ensuring access to IVF.

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