Surrogacy ban in South Dakota raising concern

WEST FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live)-- A South Dakota woman is feeling shocked after the House passed a bill that would criminalize commercial surrogacy in the state on Thursday.

"If the bill would have been law two years ago, absolutely, I would not be a parent today," Elizabeth Waletich says.

At 14-years-old, she received life-changing news.

"It really started to hit home when I really had it in my heart to be a parent."

Doctors told her she wouldn't be able to carry a child on her own.

Fast forward 10 years, she and her husband Gavin have a baby girl because of surrogacy.

But, there's a new bill raising concern.

"It is hard to find the words. Somebody who yearns to be a parent with all of who they are--it just breaks my heart that one more door could shut in their face."

Not only will the bill get rid of commercial surrogacy, but it will eliminate agencies like the one Waletich used to meet Heidi Fritz.

"They needed me and I needed them," Fritz says. "We still have an important part in each others' lives."

Fritz says she wanted to help couples after seeing her own family member struggle with fertility.

"I get to be a mom and I get to watch somebody else be a mom," she says. "It is the greatest gift to be able to give that to someone else."

Fritz and her husband have two sons.

After her journey with Waletich, she says, her family doubled in size.

"It is the best, most rewarding, hilarious, challenging adventure I have ever been on," Waletich says.

She wants everyone to have the same opportunity she had to become a mom.

The bill will now advance to the senate.

If signed into law, it would make acting as a surrogacy agent a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail time.

The bill exempts "altruistic" surrogate pregnancies and allows for the surrogate and child's healthcare costs to be covered.