Geoff and Hilary Louvar didn’t realize that their right to have a child via surrogacy could be taken away in a heartbeat.
In 2009, Geoff and Hilary Louvar were married. They already knew Hilary had no uterus and couldn’t carry children. They had been proactive in researching the options of surrogacy, because she still had her ovaries. Hilary had a partial hysterectomy in 2003 due to fibroid tumors that were growing on both the inside of her uterus and the outside. Prior to her hysterectomy, she had three successful pregnancies with her previous husband.
In Jan 2010, Geoff and Hilary started looking for a surrogate to carry a child for them (Geoff had no biological children and a desperate longing to be a father). “Our story isn’t typical. We almost immediately found the perfect woman to carry our child,” said Hilary. “We actually posted an ad on Craigslist (of all places) that said “womb for rent”. We received a couple of strange replies and then we received a reply that really struck us.”
They emailed a couple of times and agreed to meet for dinner with Melissa and her husband, Jeremy. The four of them had instant chemistry. Turns out they only lived a couple miles apart and Geoff actually knew Melissa’s older kids through his job with Youth for Christ.
At the time Kansas had no laws against surrogacy so they basically called their reproduction clinic and their attorneys and got started on the process. Their first round of IVF worked and they successfully transferred two embryos in April, 2010. Melissa delivered a perfect, healthy little boy, Griffen on January 2, 2011.
Fast-forward a couple of years. They wanted to add one more person to their family and Melissa was willing to carry another child for them. In 2013, they began the process again, but had two failed cycles. It was hard on all of them. “Melissa felt great grief over not becoming pregnant and we felt the sting both financially and emotionally. It’s very expensive and insurance covered zero dollars.”
In January of 2014, a Topeka, Kansas senator (Sen. Pilcher-Cook) decided to write a new bill, for no apparent reason, that would make surrogacy illegal in the state of Kansas. At the time, the couple was in the middle of a cycle with Melissa and if they continued with the process and the law was passed, they could have been jailed and hit with a steep fine. The bill actually stated that the surrogate would be jailed, meaning while she was pregnant with the Louvre’s child she could be incarcerated.
The couple immediately started writing everyone they knew about the possibility of the new bill passing and how desperate they were to stop it from happening. Hilary contacted local news agencies and wrote the newspaper as well. Hilary spoke with Senator Pilcher-Cook personally to tell her their story and beg her to remove this part of her new bill and she responded with an invitation to speak at the hearing to pass the bill.
Hilary, Geoff and their son, Griffen went to the capital in Topeka, Kansas to speak before the senate. “My speech wasn’t fancy, but it was passionate. I spoke while my husband held our beautiful, two-year-old to show everyone what a blessing surrogacy is and how beautiful the process was for us. Several other very passionate families from around the state spoke that day also. Our IVF doctor even went and gave a testimony.”
The next day the local news station ran a story featuring the Louvar family and the proposed bill to ban surrogacy. This brought a lot of unwanted attention for Sen. Pilcher-Cook’s new bill and the following day the bill was stopped in its tracks!
Even though the second pregnancy didn’t work out for the couple they are still trying. Thanks to Hilary’s fight they can move forward without worrying about breaking any laws.
Hilary’s letter to the Senate
e: Senate Bill no. 302 in the state of Kansas
We are writing in opposition to senate bill 302 for many reasons, but mostly because we had a child through surrogacy.
My name is Hilary Louvar. I am a traditional mother and wife to a traditional American family, raising children with traditional values. I am offended a bill would be introduced into our legislature that would ban my husband and me from adding another member to our family through surrogacy. Our son Griffen was born in 2011 through a gestational carrier. He is my egg. He is my husband’s sperm. He is OUR baby. The only difference between our baby and most other children, is the fact that he was carried during pregnancy in another woman’s body.
Melissa Little is our surrogate. She was unable to attend today’s hearing but she selflessly carried our baby to full term with the help of The Center for Reproductive Medicine in Wichita. She stepped up to help us live the dream of having a baby of our own and we’re planning to have another child in 2014 with Melissa’s help. If this bill passes, we will be denied our right as parents to bring another life into our family.
Being the parent of a surro baby raises a multitude of questions regarding this bill. What happens to the contract we already have in place regarding our first son? Is it considered null and void? Will one of us be fined or imprisoned for signing that contract? Will surrogates have the right to come ask for the babies they’ve delivered now that you want to ban the agreed-upon contracts? What happens to my good friend and neighbor, who upon hearing our story of surrogacy, decided to offer to carry a baby for her sister-in-law and is now 5 months pregnant with her nephew? Will she be punished?
Senator Pilcher-Cook said she introduced this bill to begin the discussion about surrogacy stating that she wanted to hear both sides. We could get you testimony of many surrogate mothers, family members, physicians, attorneys, and intended parents…..but we would need more time, because we only found out about this bill THREE DAYS AGO.
We are the people this bill would be affecting. My husband is a devout Catholic and I was raised in a Christian home. We both attended private religious schools and were raised to respect human life. We were raised with morals and a sense of doing the right thing. I serve on the board of directors for my church. We do volunteer work for ICTSOS, a local agency bringing awareness to human trafficking. We’ve never been ‘activists’ or ever had to pursue something of this nature, but now our very dreams are on the line by a handful of individuals that don’t seem to really grasp the concept of surrogacy. I had a partial hysterectomy in 2003 which left both ovaries but no uterus in which to carry a child. I do, however, still have all my eggs. Geoff and I were married in 2009 and immediately began researching ways we could conceive a baby of our own.
Using a surrogate is anything but simple in the state of Kansas. Before the Center for Reproductive Medicine would even begin to make plans with us on how to proceed we were asked to retain an attorney and have a legally binding contract with our SURROGATE. Our SURROGATE and her husband also retained an attorney to look over the contract making sure both parties were 100% covered. This contract covered many things we hadn’t realized we even needed to think about. The fact that we had to obtain the contract made us feel much safer going forward with our quest to have a baby.
Not only did the Center request a copy of the contract, they also had all 4 parties involved (myself, my husband, our SURROGATE, and her spouse) get a psychological evaluation. We were fortunate to have the Center for Reproductive Medicine to walk us through the process. As stated previously, using a surrogate is no simple task. If the state feels that laws surrounding surrogacy are too relaxed we can show you the mounds of paperwork, tests, legal meetings, and so forth that we had to obtain before even beginning the process.
I don’t see how a senator that claims to be such a strong advocate for the pro-life movement would want to abolish contracts protecting the very families that want to create life. The idea seems contradicting to us.
We also have concern about how this bill states “Any person or entity who or which is involved in, or induces, arranges or otherwise assists in the formation of a surrogate parenting contract for a fee, compensation or other remuneration, or otherwise violates this section shall be guilty of an unclassified misdemeanor and upon conviction therof shall be fined not more than $10, 000 or imprisoned in the county jail for not more than 1 year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.” This is a pretty wide scope for punishment. This means that the pregnant gestational carrier can be imprisoned. This means the county becomes responsible for her care and the care of the baby until she is released. Does this provide what the state will do with the baby while the intended parents and the gestational carrier are all sitting in jail for a year? Foster care? I’M SURE social services will be interested to hear they get a new batch of infants to place in homes because SENATOR PILCHER-COOK WOULD HAVE US IMPRISON loving families who need to use a surrogate as means to have a baby.
Our SURROGATE wrote her experience and we have attached it to our testimony so everyone can get her side of this process as well. She was unable to make it today but will be attending future hearings if this bill indeed continues.
This bill isn’t pro-life, it’s anti-family. This bill isn’t creating ‘smaller government’, it’s about the government adding more work load and more cost to the burden they already bear. END IT RIGHT HERE.