Photo above: Thai surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua poses with baby Gammy at the Samitivej Hospital on August 6, 2014 in Bangkok. David and Wendy Farnell have made international headlines for abandoning their disabled infant son, Gammy, in Thailand with his surrogate mother, Pattaramon Chanbua. Gammy’s twin sister lives with the Farnells at their home in Bunbury, Western Australia. The couple have denied abandoning their son on a recent television interview in Australia. (Handout photo via Getty Images and The Blaze)
I am an outspoken critic of gestational surrogacy, in which the gestational mother carries a child to term for another person or couple. I have noticed that many people do not understand the stakes in this issue. Pro-life people think, “gosh, surrogacy makes babies, how can that be bad?” Feminists think, “gosh, surrogacy allows people to meet their reproductive goals, how can that be bad?”
Read on. Surrogacy has something to offend everyone.
Pro-life reasons to oppose surrogacy
Every surrogacy procedure retrieves eggs and fertilizes them outside the body. These are now tiny human beings. (That is why adults are willing to pay for them.)
Abortion: If the doctor implants multiple eggs hoping some of them will survive, the surrogate is sometimes contractually required to do “selective reduction,” and abort some of the babies.
Frozen Embryos: If “extra” embryos are created and not implanted, they are frozen indefinitely, destroyed immediately or “donated” for research.
Eugenics: Surrogates are sometimes contractually required to abort babies that do not meet the specifications of the “commissioning parents.”
Pro-woman reasons to oppose surrogacy
Broken bonds: The gestational mother’s bond to the child is treated as if it were important during the pregnancy, and completely irrelevant afterwards.
Objectifying women: The gestational mother is used for her womb and then is legally – and perhaps emotionally – set aside.
Fewer rights for the mother, compared to adoption: If the gestational mother grows attached to the child, as mothers often do, or if she has concerns about the “commissioning parents,” too bad. Mothers who agree to place a child for adoption can almost always change their minds after the baby has been placed in their arms. Denying gestational mothers the same right is, quite simply, inhuman.
Pro-child reasons to oppose surrogacy
Psychologically risky for babies: Infants attach to their mothers in the womb. Will the infant’s attachment to the surrogate transfer over to the commissioning mother? We have no idea.
Medically risky for babies: Babies conceived through In-Vitro Fertilization are at risk for premature birth, low birth weight, cerebral palsy and other problems. Surrogacy procedures require the use of IVF or similar techniques.
Risk of rejection for imperfection: “Commissioning parents” have been known to abandon the child they commissioned due to birth defects, leaving the child with the surrogate mother in a legal limbo.
Progressive reasons to oppose surrogacy
Economically exploitive: Surrogacy exploits poor women for the benefit of the rich, who can afford the use of surrogates to achieve their “reproductive goals.” See the second half of this video, “Outsourcing Embryos,” about the surrogacy industry in India.
Introducing the profit motive into baby-making (which should be about love): The surrogacy industry isestimated to be a $30 billion business worldwide.
Rejected by progressive countries: Surrogacy is illegal in many countries, including progressive countries like France and Finland. The European Parliament recently rejected a proposal to legalize surrogacy throughout Europe.
Pro-liberty reasons to oppose surrogacy
Reducing the private realm: Surrogacy drags the law into baby-making, an arena that ordinarily takes place in the most private and intimate realm of love. Removing the sperm and egg from the body places those gametes in the realm of commerce and law. Surrogacy may involve as many as 5 separate individuals: egg donor, sperm donor, gestational carrier and one or more “commissioning parents.” The law must decide which of the adults shall be the legal parents of the child. In natural conception, the law’s role is strictly limited to recording the natural parents of the child.
Artificial, state-created separations between parents and children: The woman who carried a child for nine months has no legally recognized parental rights or responsibilities. The law makes egg and sperm donors into “legal strangers” to the child.
And the ultimate pro-liberty reason to oppose surrogacy:
Creating a market in human beings: Allowing some people to buy other people, even if they are really young and small, is not a pro-liberty policy.
With all these disadvantages of surrogacy, we should look for other solutions to the problems that surrogacy is supposed to solve. We need natural solutions, such as NaPro Technology, for medical infertility. We need more love between men and women to solve the socially-caused infertility of being unable to find a suitable co-parent of the opposite sex.
Whether you are progressive or conservative, feminist or pro-life, straight or gay, surrogacy is not the answer.