Why Andy Cohen Is Fighting to Change New York’s Surrogacy Laws

Bravo’s Andy Cohen is dealing with major drama at work after Lisa Vanderpump announced she was quitting The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The Watch What Happens Live host said he was sad to see her exit the franchise she helped make famous. “No one will ever replace her,” he told listeners on his SiriusXM Radio show Andy Cohen Live.  

But amid the Housewives turmoil, Cohen is making time to support a cause close to his heart. The 51-year-old was in Albany, New York, on June 11 to advocate for a change to the state’s surrogacy laws.

Cohen is fighting to lift the ban on gestational surrogacy

Cohen joined New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in calling for the legislature to end the Empire State’s ban on gestational surrogacy. Currently, New York is one of just three states that make it illegal to pay a woman to carry another couple’s baby. (The other two are Michigan and Louisiana.)  

“New York is one of only three states where gestational surrogacy is illegal. You read that right. In fact, many people are shocked to learn this — as Andy himself was when he first started looking into surrogacy. It’s nonsensical that an act of pure selflessness is illegal in New York in 2019,” Cuomo and Cohen wrote in an essay for Buzzfeed.

In contrast to traditional surrogacy, where the surrogate’s own egg is used to create an embryo, a gestational surrogate has no genetic relationship to the child she is carrying. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West used a gestational surrogate for their two youngest children, Chicago and Psalm West.

Cohen and Cuomo argue that the ban on gestational surrogates make it difficult for both heterosexual couples struggling with infertility and same-sex couples to have the families they want.

“In 2019, no one should have to forfeit the joy of raising a child — not in an era when modern medicine is performing new miracles every day, and when we have reached a wide consensus that the only prerequisite to forming a family is love,” Cohen said in a statement.

Cohen had his son via surrogate

Andy Cohen
Andy Cohen | Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for GLAAD

Cohen is very familiar with New York’s strict anti-surrogacy law, since it affected his journey to becoming a father.

In February 2019, Cohen welcomed his son Benjamin via surrogate. But he had to go all the way across the country to California to make his dreams of parenthood a reality, he told People.

“I worked with an incredible surrogate,” he told the magazine. “She was in California. Surrogacy is illegal in so many states, including New York. I don’t understand why. It’s a voluntary process, obviously. My surrogate just viewed it as, she was giving me the ultimate gift. She gave me life. So I’ll be forever indebted to her.”

While Cohen had the resources to go out of state to find a surrogate, not all people have that option. Forcing couples to look beyond New York when considering surrogacy comes adds to legal and financial costs and “is a barrier to family building that does not represent our values,” Cohen and Cuomo wrote.

While only a handful of states have outright bans on paid surrogacy, a number ofstates have laws on the books that put the practice in a gray area. For example, in Arizona, contracts between parents and a surrogate aren’t enforceable but surrogacy still occurs.

Some states have loosened surrogacy laws in recent years, such as Washington, notedNBC News.Since 2004, the number of children born annually via surrogate in the U.S. has increased significantly, from 738 in 2004 to 2,807 in 2015.

Read more: Anderson Cooper Reveals the Biggest Change in Andy Cohen Since Becoming a Dad

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