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Law seeks clarity for surrogate contracts, rights

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BATON ROUGE - Surrogacy, an intense and challenging process, is currently up for debate in the Louisiana Legislature.

Senate Bill 162 would make clear contracts for gestational surrogacy, which is when another woman carries and delivers a baby after being impregnated by a previously created embryo.

The surrogate has no biological ties to the child, but current Louisiana law might say differently.

"The birth certificate would say the surrogates name, as the mother, and my husband's name, though biologically I'm the mother," said Kristy McKearn, who cannot carry a child because of a heart condition. Doctors said doing so would put her life, and the child's, at risk.

"He [the doctor] said, you know, with your medical history, I don't think having a child's possible," she said. "I was kind of stunned by that, I couldn't believe that was actually being said."

McKearn and her husband looked into adoption, but decided surrogacy was the right route to take. They traveled to California and found a surrogate, who would ultimately bring them their son Jack. If Jack had been born in Louisiana, McKearn would have to adopt her own child from the surrogate, even though they had no biological connection to the child.

Twelve states, including California, protect the rights of the surrogate and the intended parents. In Louisiana, they laws and contracts remain vague: it's mute on matters recognizing the legal mother of the child, and what should happen in the event there is a "change of heart" after the process has already begun.

Louisiana's statute regarding surrogacy is also not clarified, likely because in vitro fertilization was not yet practiced when that statute passed in 1987.

Sen. Gary Smith is backing SB 162, which was passed by the House Civil Law Committee by a 9-1 vote and will go to the full House next.


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