Surrogacy bill clears Senate panel

Legislation that would establish the legal framework for surrogate births in Louisiana won quick approval by a Senate committee on Tuesday.

The Committee on Judiciary A made a couple of minor changes, then sent House Bill 187 to the Senate floor. The changes had been suggested by the measure’s sponsor, state Rep. Joe Lopinto, R-Metairie.

“Through compromise it has been tightened down and honed in,” said state Sen. Gary Smith, D-Norco, a bill co-sponsor.

HB187 applies only to a legally married man and woman who need a surrogate to carry their biological child because of medical problems.

The couple would be the legal parents of the child. The parties would enter into a contract which would have to approved by a court in advance of the embryo transfer.

“It makes it illegal for anyone else to enter into a contract,” Smith said.

Financial compensation other than medical, legal and travel expenses for the surrogate would be illegal. Money for lost wages would be allowed if the surrogate requires bed rest during the pregnancy.

The surrogate mother would have to be between the ages of 25 and 35 and have had at least one child. Prior to executing the contract, the surrogate would have to undergo at least two counseling sessions, separated by at least 30 days, with a licensed clinical social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist or licensed counselor to discuss surrogacy.

Smith sponsored broader surrogacy legislation last year that was vetoed by Gov. Bobby Jindal. The Louisiana Family Forum had opposed the bill.

No one appeared to testify against what state Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, called legislation that represented a “negotiated compromise.”

The Louisiana House approved the surrogacy measure on a 79-14 vote in early April.