Former surrogate mom responds to new surrogacy bill

Published: Jan. 30, 2020 at 6:24 PM CST
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Surrogacy could be changing in South Dakota. The way it's done currently could become a crime.

House Bill 1096 would make it a class one misdemeanor for anyone to contract or advertise for commercial surrogacy.

“I absolutely think that this is a bill that will protect the health of young women,” said Jennifer Lahl.

She is president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, which addresses bioethical issues. She also has 20 years of nursing experience. She testified for the bill. Lahl’s concerns stem from women getting paid to be surrogates.

"We know that people will take medical risks with their own health and life because they need the money,” said Lahl.

She says a surrogate pregnancy has a higher risk than a regular pregnancy.

“The minute you put a foreign embryo into a surrogate mother's womb, her body says this is not my baby and so her body starts responding, reacting to this foreign object,” said Lahl.

She believes just like donating a kidney, women should choose whether or not to volunteer to be a surrogate mom.

The bill would also ban agencies from facilitating surrogacies. Amber Rikansrud was a surrogate mother in 2017. She testified against the bill.

"It was really just to help families complete their family in whatever way that was for them,” said Rikansrud.

She used an agency to help her find a family.

“Just for my own legal protection and safety and to get connected with other families looking for a surrogate,” said Rikansrud.

Her concern with the bill is that agencies would become illegal. She compares them to adoption agencies.

"They are experts on, you know matching families to surrogates and they have all of the processes and procedures in place to adequately screen both the intended parents and the surrogate,” said Rikansrud.

She says there are misconceptions when it comes to surrogacy, such as women doing it just for money.

"Surrogacy is not a quick fix if you need money. You know, we spent you know over two years with this couple before we had a baby for them,” said Rikansrud.

She says the compensation helps to alleviate some of the financial stress that comes along with being pregnant.

Both women hope people will look at this bill closely before making a decision.