Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has once again vetoed a bill that would set up a legal framework for surrogacy births in the state, saying the legislation "still raises concerns for many in the pro-life community."
"Despite the good intentions and hard efforts of the author, this legislation still raises concerns for many in the pro-life community," Jindal wrote in his veto message Saturday. "Thus, I cannot in good conscience, sign this bill."
Contracts governing surrogacy are not enforceable in the state's courts, but the legislation would allow couples and a woman to enter into a contractual surrogacy birth relationship. The House voted 72-7 for the bill, and the Senate voted 22-11.
Rep. Joe Lopinto, a Republican from Metairie who sponsored the legislation, hasn't declared whether he will ask the legislature to override the veto, which would require 70 votes in the House and 26 in the Senate. "If the body wants to do it we'll do it. I'm one of 70 votes that I need," The Associated Press quoted him as saying.
Later, Lopinto told The Times-Picayune, "At the end of the day the governor's going to win this war," indicating that an attempt to override the veto may not be an option.
Jindal vetoed a similar bill last year after conservative Christians and Catholics objected to it, saying the legislation seemed too permissive of surrogacy arrangements. Lopinto had amended the bill to address some of their concerns.
NOLA.com quoted Gene Mills, president of the conservative Christian group Louisiana Family Forum, as saying that there were still two "irreconcilable differences" in the bill, referring to the in vitro fertilization process involved in surrogacy births and insufficient restrictions to ban surrogacy-for-pay. However, he praised Lopinto and other lawmakers for meeting 10 of their 11 recommendations. But ultimately, Mills added, "I could not advise Bobby sign this bill."
The in vitro fertilization process involves implanting several embryos so one or more may attach and become fertilized, as well as "destruction of excess fetuses," Mills said. "Technically, that's abortion."
Sen. Gary Smith, a Democrat from Norco who is the father of two genetically biological children born through surrogacy contracts in other states, said he was disappointed. "Infertility is so private and personal, and ... this bill would have helped (parents with fertility problems) to be able to have a biological child of their own, in-state," he was quoted as saying.
But the Catholic Church is against surrogacy "in any form or fashion," Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops Associate Director Robert Tasman was quoted as saying. He said his group became part of the discussions only to put it in a more preferable posture after they sensed the amount of support it had last year in the legislature.
The legislation would allow surrogacy contracts between a married couple of opposite sexes and a woman between the age of 24 and 35 years old who has given birth previously. Couples would not be allowed to pay surrogates.