The Buzz

Ban on surrogate pregnancy in Kansas unlikely after opposition from Senate president

Updated: 2014-01-29T23:23:36Z

By BRAD COOPER

The Kansas City Star

— A proposed Kansas ban on paying for surrogate pregnancies looks doomed.

Just hours after the state Senate’s Health Committee on Monday considered outlawing the hiring of women as surrogate child bearers, the chamber’s top lawmaker quickly dampened prospects for the bill.

Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, a Shawnee Republican, introduced the measure and held a hearing on the issue Monday, but Senate President Susan Wagle quickly stated her opposition.

“I personally don’t support this bill, and I certainly don’t think a majority of our members do, either,” Wagle, a Wichita Republican, said in a statement. “Criminalizing surrogate mothers is not a priority of this legislature.”

With that, the legislative leader all but doomed any bills banning the practice.

Pilcher-Cook told the committee Monday that she intended to stir discussion by introducing a bill she modeled after a similar ban enacted in the District of Columbia.

“A lot of individuals have a lot to say on this subject,” she said. “This, to me, was just a beginning to really understand where society is going with this technological process.”

In an hourlong hearing, the Health Committee heard impassioned pleas from parents who used surrogates to have children.

Among them was Hilary Louvar, who underwent a hysterectomy 10 years ago because of uterine tumors. A surrogate later gave birth to her son, 3-year-old Griffen.

“This is a very important part of building families in America,” Louvre said after the hearing. “If there’s medical technology available and we can do this in a loving home, why are we trying to stop that?”

But representatives of the National Organization for Women and the Kansas Catholic Conference said that surrogate pregnancies demean women and children by turning them into commercial enterprises.

Mike Schuttloffel, executive director of the Catholic Conference, said parents should look to adoption rather than contract with a woman to carry an embryo to birth.

“Such an arrangement violates the sacred bond of mother and child,” Schuttloffel said. “Every child has the right to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up by his or her own parents.”

The Wichita Eagle’s Bryan Lowry contributed to this report. To reach Brad Cooper, call 816-234-7724 or send email to bcooper@kcstar.com.

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