BATON ROUGE, La. -- In a day when technology can create new life, Louisiana has no laws protecting couples who use surrogate mothers to have a child. Contracts are not legally recognized.
Now a bill, passed by an overwhelming majority in the legislature, is on the governor's desk, but it only protects certain people.
It's a controversial bill that separates adults into different categories.
'This law is very strict. It puts in a lot of regulations on a practice just to prevent any sort of unethical behavior.' said attorney Amy Kern of the Beginning Families law firm. Her specialty is assisted reproductive technology law.
'This law puts a framework, a legal framework, in place for people to use a gestational carrier if they have a medical necessity that requires them to use a gestational carrier, to carry their child for them.'
Kern was involved in the bill. She says Louisiana still does not recognize a contract in traditional surrogacy, where the pregnant woman uses her own egg. There have been sensational cases where the surrogate mother wanted to keep the child since it was half biologically hers.
'I always advise everyone to never do that (use a traditional surrogate) because it's simply too risky,' she added.
This bill only applies to gestational surrogacy, where the surrogate mother carries another couples' biological child for nine months. Gay or straight people can still use a gestational surrogate, but the bill states only married couples can have a legally recognized contract.
Gay couples feel this bill discriminates against them. Kern says if same gender marriage ever becomes law, this would cover gay couples.
'The bill does not go on to define married persons. It simply says 'married persons,' so if that were to change over time, it would apply to all married persons,' said Kern.
Contracts would only be legal if a board-certified reproductive doctor, such as an obstetrician-gynecologist or a reproductive endocrinologist, deems it medically necessary. Contracts would not be legal if a couple used a gestational surrogate out of convenience. Surrogates under contract could not be paid, only reimbursed for medical expenses.
Women's groups against the bill say it makes women a commodity.
'I personally find that very offensive. The women I know who have acted as gestational carriers, always do it out of the kindness of their hearts.' said Kern. 'They have found pregnancy to be easy for them. They want to help fertility patients. They see people struggling to start their own family.'
Kern who added that many of these women already have their own children.
Some religious groups oppose the bill saying it is anti-life.
'Nothing could be further from the truth. Frozen embryos are highly protected in the state of Louisiana. They are referred to, several places throughout our statutes, as human beings. And it is a crime to destroy them or discard them,' Kern said.
Some religious groups are concerned about embryos are being created that will never be implanted.
The bill's sponsor is state Sen. Gary Smith, D-Norco. He and his wife have two children through an out-of-state surrogate mother.
To get in touch with Amy Kern, go to http://www.beginningfamilies.com.