PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota House of Representatives decided to delay action on an amendment that would establish an interim legislative committee to study and evaluate surrogacy in South Dakota in lieu of legislation that would ban commercial surrogacy altogether in the state.
The amendment was announced during a hearing on House Bill 1096 on Tuesday, Feb. 4.
According to the text in HB 1096, “any broker who knowingly engages in, advertises services for, offers payment of money or other consideration for, profits from, solicits a woman for, or otherwise assists or participates in commercial surrogacy” would be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
The bill would also make any commercial surrogacy contract, whether the two parties entered into it in South Dakota or any other state, unenforceable and void in South Dakota.
District 24 state Rep. Tim Rounds, R-Pierre, introduced the amendment to create an interim legislative committee to study surrogacy in the state, noting that further research should be conducted since the bill deals with the “life of an unborn child.”
Rounds said he's concerned that if the bill becomes state law, parents unable to have their own children may use unsafe and illegal means to broker commercial surrogacy.
“Now with this bill they’re going to have to go behind the scenes,” Rounds said. “They’re going to have to go on Facebook, on Craigslist. They’re going to have to go to a bar.”
Rounds said he understands why parents opt to have a surrogate carry their child when they are unable to themselves.
“These people want their bloodlines to continue. A wife and husband want their child, their bloodline, and I don’t blame them,” Rounds said.
Rounds said he was worried about the unborn children who may be born out of the illegal surrogacy situations should this bill become law.
“I want to have this looked at, to save the life of an unborn child,” Rounds said. “I think this deserves a summer study. Let’s answer the questions, let’s regulate it and let’s take care of those who might do harm to that child.”
District 25 state Rep. Jon Hansen, R-Dell Rapids, is the bill’s prime sponsor. Hansen said he’d rather the House vote down the amendment and vote yes on HB 1096.
“Children should not be the subject of a contract,” Hansen said. “Altruistic surrogacy might be the answer for some. I pray that adoption may be the answer for some.”
District 6 state Rep. Isaac Latterell, R-Tea, also spoke in favor of passing the bill.
“This is crazy what has happened, what can happen in our state under our current laws. That’s why it has 40 co-sponsors. There are some who would say let's slow down and look at this issue more carefully,” Latterell said.
“From what we heard in committee, this bill doesn’t go far enough. From where I'm sitting, the right thing to do is put a stop to this now,” Latterell added, noting that if the bill was made into law, it wouldn’t go into effect until July 1.
The House is expected to take action on HB 1096 and the amendment later this week.