A bill that would prohibit surrogate parenthood contracts in Utah won approval from the House Social Services Standing Committee, after two hours of heated debate and a number of amendments.

HB129, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Atkinson, D-West Jordan, would ban all surrogate parenthood contracts for a two-year period, during which time the issue could be further studied.A task force studied the issue during the past legislative interim and recommended that surrogate parenthood be allowed, with specific guidelines and limitations to protect all the parties involved, including the infant.

The committee amended the bill to make participation in a surrogate contract a class A misdemeanor (up to one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine) from the original proposal that it be a third-degree felony (0-5 in jail and up to $5,000 fine). The panel also changed the bill to allow someone who did enter into a surrogate parenthood relationship to seek medical assistance without penalty to a doctor who might provide such care.

In its original form, any type of artificial insemination was prohibited by law, but a surrogate arrangement achieved through a sexual relationship would not have been, and the panel also amended that.

Rep. Grant Protzman, D-North Ogden, said, "This issue turns my stomach, but what are the safeguards legally for the child? We're excluding safeguards." He said that he doesn't support surrogate parenthood but believes the issue should be studied further.

Atkinson disagreed. "If you vote against a moratorium on surrogate contracts, you sustain them," he said.