Gov. Bobby Jindal Vetoes Bill for 'Government-Endorsed Surrogacy Contracts'

Abigail Wilkinson | June 5, 2014 | 4:02pm EDT
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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (AP File Photo/Bill Haber)

( -- For the second time in two years, Governor Bobby Jindal has vetoed a bill that would have legalized surrogacy contracts in Louisiana.

“All Louisianians are at liberty today to engage in informal agreements regarding surrogacy - this is simply a question of whether we ought to codify and regulate such agreements,” the governor said in his May 30 veto letter.

“My heart goes out to those who face the tragedies of miscarriage and infertility. The inability to conceive or bear children is a deep wound in our society, unnoticed by most, and suffered by too many,” Jindal wrote.

“The desire to have a child is rooted in the love that created and sustains each of us – and when we seek the blessing of children, it is our best selves speaking to action.”

“However, despite the good intentions and hard efforts of the author, this legislation still raises concerns for many in the pro-life community. Thus, I cannot in good conscience sign this bill,” Jindal added, expressing his concern about “the ramifications of government-endorsed surrogacy contracts” and the manner in which they would alter “the way we value human life.”

Louisiana law currently allows only for uncompensated surrogacy, and does not recognize surrogacy contracts. HB 187 would have permitted legal, non-commercial contracts between the surrogate mother and the intended parents.

The 2014 legislation submitted to the governor was significantly different from the bill passed in 2013, which he also vetoed. It did not allow commercialized surrogacy or surrogacy for same-sex couples and single parents. It also ensured that the surrogate mother could not be pressured into having an abortion for any reason, including fetal abnormality.

However, the Louisiana Family Forum strenously opposed the bill, calling it “a drastic new policy that dramatically redefines the family.”

“Throughout Louisiana’s legal history, a woman who delivers a child is indeed presumed to be the mother of that child. In gestational surrogacy, that arrangement is turned inside out and upside down - now the woman who contributes her egg is considered the mother of the child,” Rev. Gene Mills, the organization’s president, said in a letter to the Louisiana legislature.

Rev. Gene Mills, president of the Louisiana Family Forum. (LA Family Forum photo)

Surrogacy legislation has raised a number of ethical, medical, and legal concerns. It raises questions regarding the nature of motherhood, the acceptable use of a woman’s body, and whether or not it reduces a child simply to the end-product of a legal transaction.

The American Medical Association also states that surrogacy can “improperly discourage or interfere with the formation of a natural maternal-fetal or maternal-child bond.”

In addition, commercial surrogacy risks the exploitation of poor, single, and/or minority women.

But altruistic surrogacy is also fraught with problems. Such arrangements are usually conducted between family and close friends, due to their non-commercial nature. However, these relationships often do not survive the surrogacy process.

In the United States, surrogacy laws are under state jurisdiction and differ widely from state to state. California allows both traditional and gestational surrogacy contracts for married couples, same-sex couples, and single parents. New York, on the other hand, does not recognize any form of surrogacy contract

In 2012, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have relaxed his state’s surrogacy laws. “Validating contracts for the birth of children is a step that cannot be taken without the most serious inquiry, reflection, and consensus,” Christie said. “I am not satisfied that these questions have been sufficiently studied by the Legislature at this time.”

O. Carter Snead, professor of law and director of the Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame, commented on surrogacy laws in a recent documentary film entilted "Breeders: A Subclass of Women?"

“It seems to me if you’re confronted with the possibility of real serious harms, the prudent thing to do for a legislature would be to try and pause for a moment, impose a moratorium, and conduct a very serious and deep searching inquiry into what the harms are,” he said.

“It seems irresponsible to me to push full steam ahead with a project that could risk serious harms that we don’t even know about.”

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