SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Utah House has amended and narrowly approved a bill legalizing some surrogate birth arrangements.
Senate Bill 14 was passed Wednesday on a 38-31 vote, with 38 being the minimum required for approval. The bill now goes back to the Senate for its approval of the amendments.
SB14 establishes legal standards for determining a child's paternity and registering birth certificates and sets conditions for genetic testing.
Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, persuaded the House to add language blocking couples who are providing neither the egg nor the sperm to enter into agreements with Utah surrogates.
Without the change, Hutchings said, "You can shop for the egg. You can shop for the sperm. You can rent the womb. I don't think that's right. We need to be very careful not to leave a loophole that would allow retail shopping for a child."
"There are kids waiting to be adopted," he said. "There are kids who are already cooked. You can pick them up. They're done."
On Wednesday, much of the debate was over legalizing surrogacy in Utah.
Some critics worried about sanctioning "womb rental." Others said there were numerous children in need of adoption.
Rep. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, made a comparison to lesser cows being impregnated with prize heifers' fertilized eggs.
"This bill is keeping up with technology. We are legalizing renting wombs. Is that what we want to do with people?" Dayton asked. "There's a lot of social engineering we're opening up."
There also was debate about the money surrogates are paid. In addition to paying a woman's medical bills and maternity-related expenses, most parents pay between $10,000 and $20,000 in cash to the surrogate. Right now, Utah surrogates are barred from accepting payment and most travel out-of-state to give birth.
An amendment to cap fees was defeated.
Rep. Lorie Fowlke, R-Orem, argued against limiting a surrogate's compensation, saying surrogates were not getting rich by having babies. "Would you have a baby for $18,000? I had six, and I wouldn't do it again for $18,000," she said.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)