Lawmaker behind surrogate bill on his personal connection

Lawmaker behind surrogate bill on his personal connection

One of the most controversial bills this legislative session has passed out of the House and Senate and could legislate the womb of surrogates in Louisiana. It would change who can become a surrogate and who can use a surrogate.

In Louisiana, surrogacy contracts are not legally enforceable. That is why state Sen. Gary Smith, D-St. Charles, and his wife used out-of-state surrogates to become parents.

His experience led him to write Senate Bill 162.

"There are no laws in books that regulate surrogates," he said, "so what this is doing is putting some rules and regulations for gestation surrogacy."

Smith's proposed law affects all involved with a surrogacy pregnancy. The House gave final backing to the bill in an 87-8 vote Sunday and it is now on Gov. Bobby Jindal's desk - where it is unknown if it will be signed.

The fine print concerns Adrienne Critcher, the political director of People Acting for Change and Equality or PACE.

"There are guidelines that are needed, but it's really not well thought out," she said.

The surrogate would have to live in Louisiana, be at least 25 years old, and not be a first-time mother. As for the parents, they must be able to provide their own genetic material to make a baby, ruling out infertile couples. Finally, the couple must be married. In Louisiana, only a man and woman can get married.

"That's why this bill is alarming to my organization, it is discriminating against gay people and having a family," said Critcher.

Smith admits the legislation has some of the strictest surrogacy regulations in the country.

"It is very tightly drawn, but I think its in line with our conservative natures here in Louisiana," Smith said.

PACE is not the only organization against the bill. The conservative Louisiana Family Forum, the Center for Medical Ethics and the National Organization of Women oppose it, but for ethical reasons.

Now, it is up to the governor to decide the future of surrogacy in Louisiana.

It would also be illegal to pay the surrogate. Medical expenses and mental health counseling services involving the pregnancy and birth would be covered, as well as living expenses for up to 60 days and legal fees.

KSLA originally reported this story. Click here to read that report.

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