WASHINGTON (BP) — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has vetoed a bill critics warned could have made his state a leader in the commercial surrogacy industry.
Jindal, a Republican, informed the state Senate June 20 he had rejected the bill after state and national pro-life bioethics organizations expressed grave concerns about the legislation. The measure’s gestational surrogacy contracts could commercialize surrogacy by allowing “reasonable compensation” to women who carry babies to term for a couple or another person, he said.
Southern Baptist ethicist Russell D. Moore commended Jindal for his decision.
“Surrogacy for hire is bad for children and bad for women,” said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “The womb is not a commercial commodity to be traded in the marketplace, and children are blessings, not consumer items. Surrogacy bypasses the one-flesh union, and exploits women’s bodies and children’s lives. This is not the place for laissez-faire bioethics.”
Gestational surrogacy — in which an embryo created by in vitro fertilization is implanted in a woman who has no relation to the child but has agreed to endure the pregnancy and give birth — has become increasingly popular. No federal regulation of surrogacy exists in the United States. State laws and policies regarding the practice vary from those without regulation to those with total bans, according to the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network.
Ethical problems with surrogacy include, the CBC says:
— Little consideration is given to children, who have no rights regarding their biological parents or surrogate mother if the couple who contracted with the “gestational carrier” is unrelated;
— Women’s bodies are commodified, and those who agree to become surrogates often are unaware of the health risks from receiving multiple hormone injections to enable them to receive and carry an implanted embryo;
— Low-income females are exploited to provide babies for those who can pay from $25,000 to $50,000 per child.
“Surrogacy degrades a pregnancy to a service and a baby to a product,” according to the CBC.
Bioethics specialist Wesley Smith said the bill could have transformed Louisiana “into our version of India — a country in which destitute and desperate women are exploited for their gestational capacities by a surrogacy industry and its foreign customers.”
The body “and its biological parts and functions are being reduced to the status of natural resources for the well-off to exploit, plunder, buy, and rent,” Smith wrote on his blog at National Review Online. “Political actions that blunt this objectification of humanity are to be applauded — including Jindal’s veto.”
In his veto message to the Senate, Jindal 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 remained unsatisfied the concerns raised by commercial surrogacy “have been sufficiently studied and thoroughly debated” by legislators, Jindal wrote.
The state legislature overwhelmingly approved the bill. The Senate voted 32-3 for the proposal, while the House of Representatives supported it 85-12, according to The Advocate, a Baton Rouge newspaper.
The bill, supporters said, would have regulated payments to surrogate mothers and provided guidance regarding the responsibilities of the contractual parent or parents and the surrogate, The Advocate reported. The legislation prohibited unmarried or same-sex couples from entering surrogacy contracts.
Tom Strode is the Washington Bureau chief for Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).