By Rebecca Faust
This morning, the Washington Senate passed a newly amended version of HB 1267, which would overhaul the Uniform Parentage Act. Because the House and Senate must pass the identical bill before it can be signed into law by the governor, HB 1267 has been sent back to the House. The House may be considering it tomorrow or possibly even this evening.
As originally passed by the House, HB 1267 would have legalized paid surrogacy. Fortunately, a majority of the Senate saw the problems with commercialized childbearing. So the Senate amended HB 1267, removing the provisions which would have allowed paid surrogacy as well as making other changes. The bill as passed by the Senate was then returned to the House, but the House refused to accept the Senate amendments.
Today the Senate voted to withdraw their previous amendments, adopt a new "striking amendment" instead, and re-pass the bill in this freshly amended form. A striking amendment is an amendment that re-writes an entire bill instead of listing specific changes. The new Senate version of HB 1267 would still not allow paid surrogacy, but does back down from some of the other changes which the Senate had made previously.
Even with the amendments made by the Senate, HB 1267 remains a deeply flawed piece of legislation. It is premised on the notion that a child's parents aren't necessarily a father and a mother and that the "intent" of, and relationships between, the adults involved are more important than their biological relationship to the child. (Please keep in mind that we are talking about determining who the parents are after a child is born, not about placing a child for adoption after the natural parents' rights have been relinquished or terminated and appropriate screening of the person or couple wishing to adopt the child.)
For example, HB 1267 would require that if a birth mother is in a domestic partnership with another women, that other woman must be presumed to be a mother of the child also. The natural parents, or those wrongly presumed to be parents, could eventually straighten out the affected children's parentage after going through judicial proceedings and genetic testing (with associated time and costs for those involved).
You can call the legislative hotline (1-800-562-6000) to send a message to your representatives, or find individual contact information for your representatives on the legislature's website. Keep in mind that this bill could be voted on very soon.