Governor faces tough decision with surrogacy bill

by jeeg 13. June 2013 22:43

Gov. Bobby Jindal is considering whether to sign into law SB 162, which sets regulations for gestational surrogacy in Louisiana.


It is a complex and emotional issue and a difficult decision. We urge him to consider all sides of the question before deciding.

On one side are childless couples who have the hope of seeing their own baby born to a surrogate.

On the other are those who cite ethical, moral, religious or human rights concerns. Although they have been characterized as only belonging to the far left or far right fringe groups, those who are opposed to surrogacy in general include such diverse groups as the Catholic Church, evangelicals, pro-life groups, traditionalists and feminists.

When people with such opposing viewpoints concur on an issue, there could be something to it.

But state Sen. Gary Smith, who is the father of two babies born to surrogates in other states, said surrogacy is already legal in Louisiana. The bill he sponsored, if signed into law, provides needed regulation, he said.

Jeremy Gruber, president of the Council for Responsible Genetics, told The Daily Advertiser Thursday that any regulation of the industry is a step forward. The CRG, headquartered in New York, neither opposes nor supports surrogacy, he said.

HB 162 differs from most surrogacy contracts in that it gives the “carrier” of the child — not the “intended parents” — discretion in making all medical decisions. It also requires that the intended parents accept the child, regardless of any physical problems and that the surrogate surrender the child at birth.

Although anyone can engage in surrogacy under current state law, only those who enter into a contract under the terms of the legislation would have an enforceable contract.

To qualify, it must be submitted in advance to the courts for approval. Background checks would be required for all parties.

All parties must be Louisiana residents, which will help to discourage what Gruber called “gestational tourism” by those who live in countries where surrogacy is banned. That has given rise to a growing trend for foreign couples to visit the United States to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, then leaving the country with their new baby.

Under SB 162, the genetic material must come from the intended parents and no one else.

Some opponents to surrogacy, like state Rep. Stephen Ortego, object to the “commodification of women” by commercial surrogacy brokers who target poor women. Ortego was one of only eight in both houses who voted “no.”

That element is removed by the stipulation that only medical expenses are covered by SB 162, Smith said. But opponents say there are many ways to foil that stipulation.

In addition, surrogates must be at least 25 years of age and already have given birth. This means they know what they’re getting into, plus at least two counseling sessions with a licensed mental health professional are required in advance of court approval.

There are no statistics on the long-term psychological effects on women who, in spite of the fact that their DNA is not involved, might bond with the babies they carry and have difficulty giving them up to the biological parents, Gruber said. But that just underscores the need for regulation and record keeping, he added.

“It needs to be framed in terms of the women who are engaging in surrogacy and ensure their rights are being respected,” he said, as well as those of prospective parents.

The rights and needs of children born of surrogacy must also be considered.

This is an issue that pits the compelling human desire for having children against the possibility that some women are being exploited by an unregulated industry.

The governor is in an unenviable position. We hope he is able to balance the interests of those on both sides of the question and make a decision that will benefit all concerned.

Daily World editorial


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