BATON ROUGE, LA, June 2, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) — For the second time in as many years, Governor Bobby Jindal has vetoed a bill that would have made it legal to enter into a contract with a surrogate mother in Louisiana. Both vetoes took place despite enormous support in the state legislature.
In his veto letter Jindal, who is Catholic and considered a likely GOP presidential candidate in 2016, said he had concerns about “how this legislation impacts the way we value human life.”
The governor said he had “an abundance of concern regarding the ramifications of government-endorsed surrogacy contracts.”
While Jindal's letter – which was provided to LifeSiteNews – acknowledged “the good intentions and hard efforts of the author,” he said that “this legislation still raises concerns for many in the pro-life community.”
In a statement, Louisiana Family Forum president Gene Mills said that the bill would still allow some embryos to be destroyed, and “dramatically redefines the institution of family in Louisiana. The ethical and moral dilemma created by these contracts makes this bill, at best, morally questionable.”
HB 187 passed the House by a margin of 72-7 and the Senate by a 22-11 margin. While Jindal's veto can be overridden, the author of the bill admitted that was unlikely to happen.
HB 187 was changed from last year's version, which would have made surrogacy for same-sex couples and single people legal. This year's revision also makes paying a surrogate mother illegal. State law is currently silent on these specifics.
Rep. Joe Lopinto, who introduced the bill in the state House, blamed Louisiana Family Forum for the veto, and indicated the group and Governor Jindal had “broken” promises to support the bill if changes were made.
He also thanked the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops for not asking the governor to veto the legislation, which it did last year.
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Louisiana's bishops aggressively opposed the bill before its passage but agreed not to press Governor Jindal to veto the bill once it passed, to preserve relationships with state legislators.
In a March 28 letter to legislators provided to LifeSiteNews, the Conference said that “surrogacy arrangements commercialize and objectify women relegating them to a utilitarian purpose. The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith spoke to this point in Donum Vitae as it stated that surrogacy is contrary to the dignity of persons.” The letter also addressed how “surrogacy diminishes the dignity of women” because it “focuses on what women can produce as opposed to the entire worth and being of who women have been created to be.”
Likewise, the letter says that “surrogacy agreements pose threats to the protection of life at the earliest stages. Given that in vitro fertilization is used to produce the embryos that are implanted into a surrogate, concerns arise as to the production of additional unused embryos which include what may be done to such lives, and whether they will be rightly honored as human beings or tragically destroyed.” The letter offers formal opposition to HB 187, and says “that surrogacy should and must be opposed in any form.”
The Conference's Associate Director, Rob Tasman, told LifeSiteNews that the Conference chose to not press for a veto as part of an agreement between the bill's sponsors and pro-family and pro-life groups.
“What's important to us is to maintain our integrity and loyalty to the legislators with whom we have productive and close relationships,” Tasman said.
“A member of the Conference Board cited Saint Pope John Paul II,” said Tasman. “The Pope said during his papacy that if the ideal could not be upheld, Catholics were obligated to work towards the least evil possible.” He noted that the Conference's opposition was noted in legislative “red cards,” testimony, and other ways.
The lack of a veto push does not mean the bishops accepted the surrogacy bill.
Tasman said one of the major differences between HB 187 and the 2013 fight was in the tactics used by the pro-surrogacy forces. Last year's bill was passed late in the legislative session, and Jindal's veto came after the legislature was out of session. Overcoming the veto would have required the legislature to come into a special session.
This year, the bill was introduced much earlier, with the intent of forcing Jindal's hand if he vetoed HB 187.
One of the major objections pro-life groups have to surrogacy is how many embryos are killed as part of the surrogacy process. A government report found that 1.7 million embryos had been destroyed over 21-year period in Britain.
The 2013 bill was introduced by a Senator who has two children through separate surrogate mothers.