Surrogacy bill zips through House

Legislation to set up a legal framework for surrogate births in Louisiana zipped through the state House Tuesday.

The House voted 79-14 in favor of House Bill 187 a year after advancing similar legislation only to have it vetoed by Gov. Bobby Jindal. Louisiana Family Forum, a conservative group that characterizes itself as a voice for traditional families, had asked the governor to veto it. This time - in contrast to last year’s often emotional, personal testimony about legislators’ fertility struggles - debate was kept to a minimum because of diminished opposition.

State Rep. Joseph Lopinto, R-Metairie, said he wanted to find what would work for married couples seeking to become parents through a surrogate. “We shouldn’t be California. But this is a good fit for Louisiana,” he said.

The bill is strict about which couples can seek court oversight of their surrogacy contracts. Through a legal framework, the couples receive protection in case something goes wrong in their relationship with the surrogate. The bill also clears up questions about filling out the birth certificate.

Gay and lesbian couples would not benefit from the proposal. Unmarried couples would not benefit. Participants would have to be a legally married man and woman who need a surrogate to carry their biological child because of medical problems.

A compromise with the Louisiana Family Forum resulted in criminalizing financial compensation other than medical, legal and travel expenses for the surrogacy. Money for lost wages would be allowed if the surrogate is put on bed rest during the pregnancy.

“I didn’t get everything I wanted in this bill, but neither did the other side,” Lopinto said.

The legislation now moves to the Senate for debate.