On April 1 the Louisiana House passed H.B. 187, a gestational surrogacy bill that would provide a legal framework for women to enter into a contract in order to carry, deliver, and surrender a child at birth to an infertile couple. The bill has now passed the Senate and is headed to Governor Bobby Jindal’s desk, where he has indicated he will sign it into law.
Last year a similar legislative battle on the matter of surrogacy took place in Louisiana. That bill passed both the House and the Senate, and was spearheaded by a Senator who during the hearings shamelessly placed photos of his own children born via a surrogate in California. Eventually, that bill made its way to the Governor’s desk and Governor Jindal vetoed the bill. I applauded that decision then and encourage the Governor to do so again.
If I had the Governor’s ear today, I would ask him about the language in his veto letter, where he said, “Creating a state sanctioned regulatory structure for contracts pertaining to the birth of children has a profound impact on the traditional beginnings of the family and is an important topic worthy of heightened scrutiny and consensus.”
He rightly reflected that the legislation, if passed, might be harmful to families, and perhaps more importantly to the children. What has changed from last year to this year Governor Jindal? Regarding potential harms, nothing.
But what a difference a year-long legislative cycle makes. What happened? Simply put, politics and money happened. Last year the Governor had the votes to sustain his veto, this year he doesn’t. Indeed, legislators have already indicated they would vote to override his veto.
As originally written, the bill would have allowed for unregulated surrogacy as law. In order to get a bill to his desk that he would sign, they all made political sausage. Unfortunately, this sausage making impacts women and children, society—all of us.
This bill will allow only altruistic surrogacy between married heterosexual couples who need a surrogate for medical reasons (not for social or lifestyle choice). The conservative right wants only married moms and dads with the help of a benevolent “third-party” to have babies. The bill allows for no gamete donation, meaning the husband’s sperm and the wife’s eggs must be used; only the womb can be borrowed—not paid for—so that the “gift” of life is given.
If anyone breaks any of these rules, there are stiff penalties added: “A person convicted of violating any of the provisions of this Section shall be punished by a fine not to exceed fifty thousand dollars or imprisonment without or without hard labor for not more than ten years, or both.”
Because the bill has been so heavily amended with regulations, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART) opposes the bill. Stamping their feet they say:
The left is willing to accept this bill becoming law because they know that a wedge is in the door. Governor Jindal, when you sign this law thinking that “protections” are in place to safeguard those “traditional family beginnings,” please know this. The left will wait, but they won’t wait for long because “equality” and “non-discrimination” are the wind in their sails.
The question will be, why is it fine for married heterosexual couples to exploit a woman for free in order to have a baby if it’s not fine for others to do so? Why shouldn’t a woman be paid for this sacrifice of offering her entire body for nine months? If a baby is such a great good, why shouldn’t our laws and policies be structured in such a way that anyone who wants a baby can get one?
Women have always been made to be mothers and not breeders. Enacting H.B. 187 hangs a sign out in Louisiana that says, no need to go to California anymore—we exploit women and children in the name of family here, too.