April 3, 2014 — The Louisiana House in a 79-14 vote on Tuesday approved a bill (HB 187) that would regulate surrogacy contracts between married couples and women who bear their children, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. The measure now proceeds to the state Senate (O'Donoghue, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 4/1).
Currently, the state does not consider surrogacy illegal, but the arrangements are not enforceable in court, and a surrogate who gives birth is presumed to be the child's mother.
The legislation, introduced by state Rep. Joe Lopinto (R), would make surrogacy contracts legal and enforceable, as well as specify who could participate in such arrangements and outline their legal rights.
The bill would only allow heterosexual married couples to enter into such contracts. It also would require that potential surrogates be ages 25 through 35, have given birth before, and have undergone a mental and physical evaluation.
A surrogate would have to agree to relinquish all rights to the infant (Deslatte, AP/Washington Times, 4/1). In addition, surrogates would be barred from receiving compensation, other than for related medical bills, unless the pregnancy renders them unable to work (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 4/1).
The bill also would prohibit surrogacy contracts from requiring that the surrogate must have an abortion because of fetal anomalies or health conditions, or because of the fetus' sex (AP/Washington Times, 4/1).
According to the Times-Picayune, the state Legislature last year "overwhelmingly" passed a bill that more broadly permitted surrogacy contracts. However, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) vetoed that measure after conservative Christians and the Catholic Church criticized the proposal (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 4/1).
Jindal might be more open to the latest version, which he called "a very different bill than the bill that got to my desk last year." According to the AP/Washington Times, Lopinto was able to eliminate most social conservatives' opposition to the bill by including the provisions on compensation and abortion.
However, the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops said it remains opposed to the bill. According to the AP/Times, the Catholic Church opposes surrogacy and in vitro fertilization because they believe the procedures undermine the dignity of women and children and facilitate the destruction of embryos (AP/Washington Times, 4/1).