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Republican lawmakers enraged by passage of ‘The Uniform Parenting Act’

Ken Vance Editorial Clarkcountytoday.com

Senate Bill 6037 allows for paid surrogacy in the state of Washington

Sometimes I have the pleasure of telling you a story and sometimes the story just tells itself.

Rep. Liz Pike

Rep. Liz Pike

It’s safe to say a number of area lawmakers have had some tough days during the current legislative session in Olympia but the past 24 hours just might have been the toughest for Reps. Liz Pike (R — 18th District) and Vicki Kraft (R — 17th District) and others.

Pike, Kraft and their fellow lawmakers were on the floor of the house until after midnight in the a.m. hours of Wednesday. I spoke with Kraft by telephone this morning and I believe she told me that she was still testifying on the floor of the House of Representatives after midnight.

The topic was Senate Bill 6037, “The Uniform Parenting Act.’’ Among other things, the bill allows for paid surrogacy in the state of Washington. Here’s a link to a copy of the bill:

http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bill%20Reports/House/6037-S.E%20HBR%20JUDI%2018.pdf

The bill was co-sponsored by Sens. Ann Rivers (R — 18th District) and Annette Cleveland (D — 49th District), among others, and passed the Senate on Feb. 7 by a vote of 27-21. Rivers and Cleveland voted in favor of the bill. Sen. Lynda Wilson (R — 17th District) voted against it.

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Rep. Vicki Kraft

Rep. Vicki Kraft

Last night, or early morning to be more accurate, members of the House passed the bill by a margin of 27-21. Reps. Monica Stonier (D — 49th District) and Sharon Wylie (D — 49th District) both voted in favor of the bill and Reps. Pike, Kraft, Paul Harris (R — 17th District) and Brandon Vick (R — 18th District) all voted against the bill.

Shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday, a very discouraged Pike took to her Facebook page to voice her displeasure.

US 6th Circuit Court Judge Damon J. Keith coined the phrase ‘democracy dies in the dark,’’’ Pike wrote. “I would say that ‘human decency’ died in the dark this morning around 1 a.m. at your WA State Capitol. House Democrats voted to legalize the purchase and sale of human babies in the wee hours of the morning.

“In the six years I’ve served in the WA State House of Representatives, I have never been more disgusted by such a sinister piece of legislation,’’ Pike wrote. “Currently in WA, any woman can offer to be a surrogate mother for couples who want a baby. Today, it is done out of altruistic giving, love, compassion and caring on the part of the surrogate mother. Tonight, Democrats turned this beautiful altruistic act into a financial transaction.

“For House Republicans, this bill was a matter of conscience,’’ Pike added. “We all voted ‘no’ to protect the womb from being monetized and commercialized. This bill sets virtually no limits on the amount people will be able to sell or purchase a human baby for. I’m disgusted that such a bill would ever be considered let alone pass. What have we become as a state, selling human babies to the highest bidder? Is this who we are? I asked these questions on the house floor during the final debate.’’

Pike and her fellow Republicans, including Kraft, offered amendments to the bill but they were each shot down by the Democrats, who hold a majority in both the House and the Senate.

“In its current form, as it passed out of the House, the bill even permits convicted felons to purchase human babies,’’ Pike wrote. “There was a host of amendments offered by my esteemed colleagues that would have put needed protections in the bill, but of course, the Democrats systematically rejected them all — one by one.

“There is a dark shroud tonight over the people’s House,’’ Pike concluded. “With nine days to go until the end of session, it is hard to imagine what’s next that will be worse, now that liberal Democrats control both the House, the Senate and the Governor’s office.’’

When I reached Kraft by phone Wednesday morning, she echoed Pike’s disgust for the bill.

“It is literally the most disturbing bill I’ve seen come before the House Chamber since I’ve been in office,’’ Kraft said. “The bill essentially allows for the commercialization of a surrogate woman. In layman’s term, I call it ‘rent a womb.’

Kraft has been an outspoken opponent of sex trafficking.

“If you think about it, the parallel between the work I’m doing on sex trafficking and the women on this bill is the woman being bought,’’ Kraft said. “They are being commercialized and they are being purchased — just for different reasons.

“In my opinion, what the bill does is it opens up the potential for the exploitation of women who are economically disadvantaged,’’ Kraft said. “They could become people who are taken advantage of by people who have more resources than they do. It’s renting women for hire. If we think of it as that, that’s pretty unpleasant.’’

Kraft disputes the notion that the bill was created to provide for couples who can’t have their own child to have an opportunity to have a baby through surrogacy.

“Our current law in Washington state already creates that opportunity — it’s called altruistic surrogacy,’’ Kraft said. “In those scenarios, the woman doesn’t get paid so it doesn’t become a business where women can be abused.’’

Kraft said she has been made aware of nightmare incidents involving surrogacy.

“I’ve heard of cases of people that have had surrogates have several babies and they take these people in and they become part of sex trafficking situations,’’ Kraft said. “To take something as important as a mother-child relationship, a bond that is supposed to be a very special thing — and to basically commercialize it no differently than something you can go out and buy in the market, is a dangerous position for us to be in.’’

The bill is slated to take effect Jan. 1, 2019. Kraft said the best hope for preventing that from happening is a veto by Gov. Jay Inslee.

“I would ask citizens who are concerned about this bill, which they have every right to be, they should call the governor’s office,’’ Kraft said. “The governor vetoing it is the best opportunity to make sure it dies.’’

For information on how to contact Gov. Inslee’s office, go to https://www.governor.wa.gov/contact/contact/contact-gov-inslee .

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About The Author

Ken Vance, Editor

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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