Surrogacy bill goes to conference

A proposal to create the regulatory framework for surrogacy births in Louisiana has been sent to a legislative compromise committee, upon the urging of the senator sponsoring the bill.

State Sen. Gary Smith, D-Norco, had previously said he didn’t object to House changes to his Senate Bill 162. But he said Monday that he needed to “straighten some wording out” on one of the House adjustments.

At issue is language added to SB162 by state Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe, that would make the entire measure “null and void” if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Federal Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The court is expected to rule on the legal challenge this year.

Smith said he wants to declare that surrogacy is allowed only for a married couple, defined as one man and one woman — but not tie the fate of the bill to the Supreme Court case.

The surrogacy bill has become one of the more controversial measures of the session. Religious groups oppose the measure, raising ethical and moral concerns. Despite the opposition, support from the House and Senate has been overwhelming.

Backers of the legislation said surrogacy births were currently taking place in Louisiana without clear guidelines on the legal rights of the parents, the surrogate or the child. They said Smith’s bill would establish regulations.