The House passed a bill Monday that would set legal guidelines for surrogate-mother agreements after opponents were unable to tighten rules under which a woman could agree to bear a child for someone else.

The bill, approved 86 - 46, is an effort to stake out state policy on assisted reproduction, which now doesn't address the question of surrogacy.

The Senate passed the bill last month before sending it to the House.

There are an estimated 100 surrogate pregnancies in Minnesota every year. Advocates of the bill said that the legislation merely codifies agreements already occurring between a surrogate mother and the intended parents.

Upon the birth of the child, according to the bill, all parenthood rights would be vested in the intended parents and not in the surrogate mother or her husband, if she is married.

The bill sets down requirements for both the surrogate mother and the intended parents. The surrogate must be at least 21 and have given birth before, and must have completed medical and mental health evaluations. She must have obtained legal advice and health insurance.

At least one of the intended parents must have contributed the sperm or the egg, and a doctor must vouch for their medical need for a surrogate. The parents must complete a mental health evaluation and consult a lawyer.

The bill makes the intended parents responsible for the child's support, even if they breach the contract with the surrogate mother.

Opponents tried Monday to amend the bill to prevent the surrogate mother from having an abortion while under contract in the event that the intended parents are unhappy about the child's gender, and to limit the surrogate's compensation to the actual costs.

"Let's not go down the road of turning this into another career choice," said Rep. Mark Buesgens, R-Jordan.

Rep. Dan Severson, R-Sauk Rapids, one of the most vocal opponents of the bill, said it was rife with moral issues and "reads like an open barn door on both sides."

However, Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, said the bill offers reasonable guidelines. "It's the right thing to do," he said.

Rep. Kathy Tingelstad, R-Andover, chief author of the bill in the House, said it doesn't address the amount of compensation, which she said is typically around $10,000. But she dismissed suggestions that surrogacy is open to abuse.

"People don't go into this process lightly," she said.

Kevin Duchschere • 612-673-4455