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Lawmakers again pass surrogate birth rights bill

by Associated Press

BATON ROUGE — After two years of vetoes, Louisiana lawmakers are again sending the governor a bill to create regulations governing surrogacy births in the state.

Only this time, the governor is new — Democrat John Bel Edwards took office in January — and he is expected to sign it into law.

The House gave final passage to the measure with an 87-3 vote Tuesday and little discussion.

Surrogacy isn’t illegal in Louisiana, but contracts between a couple and its surrogate aren’t enforceable in court. The woman who gives birth is presumed to be the child’s mother.

The bill by Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, sets out the legal rights of parents, child and surrogate mother when a woman carries and gives birth to a baby for someone else.
Former Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed similar bills in 2013 and 2014, citing the moral and ethical objections raised by social conservatives and religious leaders.

Such concerns again were raised during this year’s debate, but that couldn’t trump the personal stories of lawmakers who used surrogates and in-vitro fertilization to have children. The bill won overwhelming support in each chamber.

After the House cast the vote that sent the measure to Edwards’ desk, bill supporter Rep. Joe Lopinto, who has announced he is leaving office later this year, told his colleagues: “Considering this will be my last regular session, I have two words: Thank you.”

He then walked over to Bishop and hugged him. Lopinto and his wife used in-vitro fertilization to become parents.

Women must meet a lengthy list of requirements to qualify as surrogates, under the measure. And the intended parents would have to be a woman and man who are married.

The surrogate would have to be 25 to 35 years old, already have given birth to at least one child and attend counseling sessions before entering into the surrogacy contract and within six months after giving birth. She would have to certify that she gives up all rights to the child after the birth.

The intended parents, surrogate and surrogate’s spouse, if she has one, would have to undergo background checks.

A surrogate couldn’t be paid compensation but could be reimbursed for medical expenses, mental health counseling, lost wages due to bed rest and travel costs. She couldn’t terminate a pregnancy if prenatal testing reveals disabilities.

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