I read with interest the letter to The Advocate penned by Gene Mills of the Louisiana Family Forum about Senate Bill 162 on surrogacy. It was so rife with inaccuracies that as the primary drafter of the bill, I felt compelled to write to correct some of them.
I have been a professor of family law for 10 years. I was also reporter of the Louisiana State Law Institute committee that drafted SB162. Our group studied every surrogacy law in the country, spoke with countless opponents and supporters, took three years, and ultimately, with the aid of experienced judges and lawyers around the state, recommended SB162.
Gene Mills and others are well within their rights to oppose the bill and to encourage others to do so. But they should disseminate accurate information.
Mills calls upon society to rise up and reject “commercial contracts” for surrogacy. This is a misrepresentation of SB162. It does not allow for “commercial” surrogacy contracts.
Other states, including California, do allow surrogates to be paid a fee (to reap a “profit”). This bill would prohibit such payments in Louisiana. It allows a surrogate to recover only the same out-of-pocket expenses that can be recovered by women who relinquish children for adoption in Louisiana (medical, legal and living expenses), and I doubt Mills would dare call adoption contracts “commercial.”
Mills claims that surrogacy “presume[s] ‘a duty to abort’ ” and will result in the “selective destruction of ... embryos in utero.” These claims border on the absurd. SB162 does not make abortion or “selective destruction” more likely (or more protected) choices than they already are for any pregnant woman. I understand that the LFF would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned, but that is quite a different issue.
I suppose the central message of the LFF’s opposition to SB162 is that procreating in any way other than the traditional one is “immoral.” I find it offensive that the LFF believes themselves to be in a superior position to judge the manner in which my children (who are adopted), Sen. Gary Smith’s, D-Narco, children (born using gestational surrogacy) or anyone else’s children came to be a part of the family.
After years of hard work, my only regret is that the bill is not more inclusive. It requires the intended parents of the child to be “married persons.” Access to surrogacy should be broader, to allow more people the possibility of genetic parenthood. Louisiana was simply not ready for that yet. We remain such a conservative state.
Nonetheless, I am proud to see Louisiana send this bill to the governor’s desk as an important step in the right direction for Louisiana families.
law professor, LSU