Surrogacy bill goes to governor

With little discussion, the Louisiana House of Representatives agreed Sunday afternoon to strip amendments it had added to legislation that would create a legal framework for parents who hire a surrogate mother.

The House then voted to concur with the Senate’s language. The move sends Senate Bill 162, which sponsored by state Sen. Gary Smith, D-Norco, to the governor’s desk.

If signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal, SB162 would create a legal framework that would regulate payments and provide courts with guidance on everyone’s responsibilities in a surrogate contract. Infertile parents would use a surrogate mother to carry and birth babies from their biological material.

Opponents included many in the church community and the Louisiana Family Forum, a Baton Rouge-based advocacy group that describes itself as promoting “traditional family values.” They voiced moral concerns about regulating surrogacy, the possibility of enabling more abortions and fears that the legislation would create a “womb for rent” industry in Louisiana.

The House tacked onto SB162 an addition would have made the surrogate law created in SB162 “null, void and given no effect” should the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to rule next month, overturn Louisiana’s prohibition on gay marriage.

The high court already has heard arguments and is expected to rule later this year on a constitutional challenge of Federal Defense of Marriage Act that, depending on the ruling, could topple similar laws in many states, such as one in Louisiana, that defines marriage between a man and a woman.

The House approved the amendment without objection.

Smith, who initially said he was OK with the changes, challenged the addition and sent the bill into a conference committee, which stripped the amendments.

Once the legislation is signed by the Speaker of the House and Senate President, SB162 will go to the governor’s desk.

Gene Mills, the head of Louisiana Family Forum, wrote to The Advocate last week, asking Jindal to veto the measure if it cleared concurrence, as it did Sunday.