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Surrogacy is evil

Perhaps nowhere is the proverb "By their fruits ye shall know them" more borne out than in the area of "assisted reproduction" and surrogacy. It is a general area where I myself at one time thought it was possible to take a pro-life position as long as one always acknowledged the humanity of the child and never went along with deliberate destruction of unborn children from the embryonic stage onwards.

But after further thought I eventually came to the conclusion that deliberately conceiving children in laboratories or in any manner outside of marriage, even asexually, is intrinsically wrong. The fruits of assisted reproduction and surrogacy were part of what got me to take a second look, though the final conclusion is supported philosophically.

Here is one of those evil fruits.

It would be difficult to exaggerate how wicked this is. This child was conceived, apparently by his biological mother (artificial insemination? sex with a boyfriend?), with the intent that he would be adopted by an unrelated lesbian couple. They assured the mother that they wanted this child. Meanwhile, the lesbians split up and it turns out that the baby has a disability--a hernia of the bowel into the abdomen, usually correctable by surgery.

So now Rosie doesn't want the baby anymore. It's damaged goods.

Who knows what is going to happen to the baby now. The loving bio-mother says she was going to have an abortion if Rosie-n-friend weren't "on board," even before she knew the baby was disabled. I can't discover from available news stories whether she's going to kill the baby now or not.

This child is being treated like unwanted zucchini. "Grew more in my garden this year than I can use. Do you want some? Otherwise I'm just going to throw it out, so let me know, 'k?"

The depravity of treating children as products is thus revealed in all its ugliness. You cannot manufacture children, in the womb or out of it, as products "intended" for other people without this type of thing eventually happening, because the entire approach to conception as baby-making is flat wrong.

God protect this unborn child.

This looks like an interesting organization.

Comments (25)

It is, and this may be among the most tangible reasons to oppose ss"m". If ss"m" is a constitutional right then it will basically follow that so is all manor of these assisted reproductive practices. Perhaps even including fast tracking any technology that would allow a human to be made from the DNA from same sex couples (which, of course, will be federally funded and if successful insurance would pay for it as an infertility treatment).

By my recollection your predictions are already coming true in England, but I don't have time to look it up just at this moment. It might have been some venue in the U.S. where it was deemed that homosexual "couples" had to be deemed to "suffer from infertility" and therefore their "assisted reproduction" had to be paid for by the taxpayer.


It appears "infertility" coverage is already available for same sex couples in California.


This predicts that by 2017 it will be possible to combine the DNA of two people of the same sex to create a viable human embryo. I find this unfathomably disturbing and evil. However, it seems to me that if ss"m" is a right then this is to. I can only imagine that this will be seen as something that must be pursued until it works (if it ever does) for the sake of "equality".

That all said, surrogacy is here today and is clearly evil as it is indistinguishable from buying and selling human beings. On top of that, in some cases it involves wealthy men taking advantage of poor women. Which apparently is just fine so long as the men are gay at least. Go figure.

Or, as in this case, wealthy women. Or just wealthy couples, period.

For what it's worth, I think it will not prove possible to derive sperm cells entirely from females and egg cells entirely from males. So far what I'm seeing with all of that is hype. Of course it would be evil if it were possible, and it's wrong to try, and I'm going out on a limb here, but I don't think it will prove biologically possible.

Until and unless artificial wombs are developed (also dubious, but more plausible), a female will always be needed to gestate the child in any event. The whole situation is a nightmare.

For what it's worth, I think it will not prove possible to derive sperm cells entirely from females and egg cells entirely from males. So far what I'm seeing with all of that is hype.

That's my sense too. At least, as of about 3 years ago when I last looked carefully, there was no REAL progress toward doing it utterly without either one of male and female reproductive material.

What amazes me is that C.S. Lewis rather clearly grasped the general concept of sex-less reproduction as far back as the 1940's. And he rightly pegged it back then as an unspeakable crime.

The particular story in the o.p. may even have involved sex. The surrogate wanted to have a tubal ligation when undergoing childbirth for the _first_ baby she sold/gave over to Rosie-n-friend. Rosie talked her out of it. Then it sounds like she "found herself" pregnant again and called them up to make sure they were "on board" so she wouldn't have an abortion. So this particular baby may even have been conceived in the old-fashioned way, but would never have been conceived if the mother had not had Rosie-n-friend in mind on which to unload it. (Because the mother would otherwise have had a tubal ligation previously.) Heaven knows who the father is, and what his relationship is to the child's mother. The idea was that Rosie-n-friend would adopt the baby.

Surrogacy comes in many varieties, I gather.

The story reminds me a bit from this: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en.html

As experience has shown, the absence of sexual complementarity in these unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children who would be placed in the care of such persons. They would be deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood. Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. This is gravely immoral and in open contradiction to the principle, recognized also in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the best interests of the child, as the weaker and more vulnerable party, are to be the paramount consideration in every case.

Besides what I mentioned before, another issue here that is troubling is a lack of a limiting principle. If surrogacy really is just fine, then there is no value in having a relationship with one's biological parents. The only thing that matters is that someone is willing to raise the kid. If that is the case, why not just make it so all pregnant women are surrogate's for whoever is most desiring and by whatever criteria, most able, to raise a child? What rationale can a pro-surrogacy person give for sending every newborn home with it's biological parents after all (except in extreme situations) that does not contradict there pro-surrogacy position? I do not think one exists. I am also concerned that someone will catch on here and seriously start questioning why we dont find the "best parents" for newborns instead of just assuming the baby should go home with its (biological) mom and dad. That is if that is not already a serious conversation in some elite circle...

I have mixed feelings about surrogacy and IVF, but I think this situation arose specifically out of a view that unborn children are simply not people for the purposes of law and moral philosophy. It is very conceivable that IVF and surrogacy could exist safely (for the child's life) in a society that treats abortion as premeditated murder. Arguably our biggest hurdles are getting people to understand that yes, unborn children are fully human and second that being fully human, an intentional act aimed at killing them is murder in the first degree. Aside from visuals, there's no moral difference between abortion and shooting a toddler in the head deliberately during a botched robbery.

It is very conceivable that IVF and surrogacy could exist safely (for the child's life) in a society that treats abortion as premeditated murder.

Not really. Your mention of IVF is one reason why not. IVF by its very nature lowers respect for human life and even makes it epistemically difficult to tell when one is murdering an embryo. Let me explain why: In IVF many eggs are mixed with sperm. The next day the lab technicians check the "quality" of the resulting entities. Some are "rejects" and are suspected not to have the capacity to develop properly in the womb. These are bio-incinerated. The question immediately arises, are they living embryos or not? Because the "quality tests" indicate that in some way the first twenty-four hours during which egg meets sperm didn't "go right," they may be regarded as having died and hence as not being living embryos. Or it may be that, since the process of fertilization did not complete properly (after all, fertilization is a biological _process_), they were not conceived in vitro in the first place. But the fact is that we *don't know*. It is so clear that scientists don't know for sure even the biological status of these earliest "rejects" that I read of a case where an older woman was undergoing in vitro and always had "bad quality" embryos. The doctors kept attempting implantation with them because "that was all she had." This was *of course* used as an argument for further experimentation of some kind or other to give women like her "better quality" embryos.

So IVF involves literally *from the very outset* the treatment of human life as a product subject to quality control and the rejection of some who, for all the scientists know, may be living human beings, as "poor quality." That is baked into the nature of the beast. Any strongly pro-life couple that insisted on trying to have every embryo implanted would almost certainly encounter difficulty or outright refusal concerning these early "rejects."

Beyond that there is the very high implantation failure rate even for those who are not rejected out of hand, which creates an extremely callous attitude towards early human life. I have listened to Christian women chatting about IVF: "So they put in two, and neither of them took, so then they tried again with two more, and one of them took." Gotta love the vocabulary: "Took." "Didn't take." It should make any pro-lifer's skin crawl.

Finally (for now) let me note that even if the child in the main post is not aborted, he is stranded in a situation where no one wants him. This arises out of the whole surrogacy context and would be true even if abortion were strictly illegal. Take abortion out of the equation, and you still have a situation where he was conceived by a woman who wanted to avoid pregnancy but was talked into it because someone else wanted her to "have the child for them," who took their word for it, and who then ended up with a baby nobody wants, because he is disabled.

Nobody regarded this child as *really being theirs* from the beginning. This child was deliberately conceived in a parental limbo, in terms of the attitudes of the adults involved. It seems quite plausible that he'll end up foisted off on the foster care system because he was conceived in surrogacy and then rejected by his "intended mother."

Treating people as products for barter and sale isn't (in one obvious sense) as bad as murdering them, but it's a grave evil nonetheless.

Surrogacy is also an absolutely classic case of "hard cases make bad law." Recently there was a similar situation to this one, only I believe there was actually some surrogacy contract involved. (It looks to me like Rose-n-friend may not have had anything written up with the surrogate in the main post.)

An actress told her husband she wanted a surrogate baby "with him." I forget why she couldn't be the mother. So they made an arrangement with a surrogate who was (I seem to recall) a waitress. I think yet a third woman's eggs were used. Sure enough, there was a divorce during the pregnancy, and the father (whose sperm was used) ended up raising the baby. The way the law works, because he sought state assistance of some kind for the child, the state automatically went after the surrogate, who was regarded as the biological mother, to recoup part of the expense of the state assistance for the child. The actress "intended mother," who was *in fact* not related to the child in any way, wanted to go on her merry way, though the baby was originally conceived entirely at her wishes and by her direction.

Now, what was the right or just thing to do in this situation? In one sense, the state's pursuit of the much poorer surrogate for money for the child while letting the rich actress off without paying a penny seems manifestly unjust. But in another sense, for the state to treat the rich actress as the mother is highly problematic. There was no adoption. She was not biologically related to the child. She did not bear the child. She is "the mother" only as, in essence, a *purchaser*, only as the person who ordered the child like one would order a book from Amazon.

I was ambivalent. I didn't like seeing the father (who didn't have much money either) and the surrogate get treated badly in the situation or the "ordering" actress get off scot free. But I don't like precedents that treat unrelated people, with no adoption in place, as parents.

Hard cases make bad law. That's the nature of surrogacy, again.

To the extent the state will respect surrogacy AT ALL under law, it seems simple enough to mandate that surrogacy occur with somewhat the same statutory oversight as adoption. And that the contract contain certain express provisions that would cover the recipient couple's situation if they get an early divorce. At the least, the recipient couple should be, under contract, not less financially obligated to the expenses of raising a child than if they had had the child naturally - failure to fulfill some portions of the contractual goal (actually being "parents" as it were to the child) should kick in financial costs accordingly.

So, in the actress example, it should be morally and legally correct to go after the actress for financial support. And, by the way, this financial support would be something like a penalty or at least an escape clause, and have absolutely no implication that the woman has any say over the child's welfare. Which, more or less, should also be the case for unmarried fathers: the fact that they are financially obligated is not even under the same category as "who has a say in raising the kid?"

I object to enforcing surrogacy contracts because I think they shouldn't exist, and to the extent that they are enforced, they are treated as valid contracts in law. Sort of like pre-nup agreements shouldn't exist.

Ideally, Tony, I agree with you that it could be possible and even desirable to charge an unrelated person with child-raising expenses, as in the actress case, without meaning thereby that the person has parental rights. But to the extent that that occurs _because_ the state treats surrogacy contracts as valid, I see that as a problem.

Once the surrogacy contract is treated as legally valid, then the contract lawyers and family lawyers and family judges have to decide which clauses to enforce and which ones not to enforce. For example, in a different situation a state that recognized such contracts could also assess a penalty against the surrogate if she refused to abort a "defective" fetus and if such a penalty were written into the contract. Or they could enforce a clause that said that the "intended mother" could _not_ be charged with parental expenses if she had asked the surrogate to abort, if _that_ were written into the contract.

I think the inherent instability of surrogacy contracts is also legally and socially greater than that of adoption, because adoption really is taking the child home, taking custody, becoming the child's parents. The whole point of a surrogacy contract is that it is put in place before the child actually exists and that the "intended parents" are merely _supposed_ to get the baby at the end of the process of gestation. They aren't actually adopting the child right then and there, because the baby doesn't exist yet. That aspect both produces the peculiar objectification of the child of surrogacy and also makes it difficult to force the "intended parents" to take responsibility if they change their minds.

"Sort of like pre-nup agreements shouldn't exist."

I really do not mean to take this off track, and I do not want to, but what objection do you have to pre-nuptial agreements? If you have any links, I would be interested.

Anymouse, Tony can probably express this better than I can (and may even have additional reasons), but the way I would put it is this: Any contract that *sets up* a marriage *by means of* envisaging the dissolution of the marriage is wrong. To make it part of what sets up your marriage legally that you have set out terms for "what happens in the event of a divorce" is to build instability into your marriage from the outset rather than envisaging it as permanent. Such an act reduces the marriage to a *mere* contract. This is one reason among a great many why the libertarians are dead wrong, civil marriage should not be abolished and replaced with individually crafted contracts, which are by their very nature prenuptial agreements.

I would say that one can even hold this position concerning prenup agreements if one thinks that there is a narrow set of circumstances in which divorce and remarriage is allowable, though that does make it somewhat more difficult to express the wrongness of the agreement than if one takes the position that divorce from sacramental marriage is literally metaphysically impossible. But even if one allows narrow divorce exceptions (as some conservative Protestants do), the deliberate envisaging of the invocation of those exceptions isn't supposed to be part of the initial legal enactment of the marriage. Which is to say that each partner is pledging _not_ to do any of the things that would bring one of those exceptions into play and is trusting the other _not_ to do any of those things. Otherwise the marriage would not take place. To envisage the exceptions in the very act of setting up the marriage, then, and to put them into an agreement between the parties, either expresses a lack of trust in the other or a lack of trustworthiness on one's own part, which undermines the marriage from the outset.

I object to enforcing surrogacy contracts because I think they shouldn't exist,

Quite right. They shouldn't exist. That's why I said "to the extent that the state will respect surrogacy AT ALL". The state should not respect agreements between private parties to simply hand over a baby after conceiving and bearing the child "as agreed." That smacks of slavery (both of the mother and of the child). At the least, it has overtones the of sale of persons.

Given that the state is already degenerate enough to accept the initial problem as if a valid way to do things, (something the state should NOT do), it would be better for the state to allow it ONLY within constraints, and those constraints should be at least as onerous as that of adoption. It is, after all, turning over a baby from his or her natural parent to an unnatural "parent", and the state insists on having a say when for that when surrogacy is NOT part of the picture. Why should not the state have a similar say in surrogacy?

Once the surrogacy contract is treated as legally valid, then the contract lawyers and family lawyers and family judges have to decide which clauses to enforce and which ones not to enforce. For example, in a different situation a state that recognized such contracts could also assess a penalty against the surrogate if she refused to abort a "defective" fetus and if such a penalty were written into the contract. Or they could enforce a clause that said that the "intended mother" could _not_ be charged with parental expenses if she had asked the surrogate to abort, if _that_ were written into the contract.

If the state is proactive (as it is in adoption), it can set forth IN LAW which kinds of provisions a surrogacy contract MUST have, and which kinds it MUST NOT have. Given (as above) the hypothesis that the state is determined to be degenerate enough to accept surrogacy as if it were a valid contract, it should at least limit what kinds of contracts are allowed. For instance, a state could say that no surrogacy contract may provide for remuneration to the bearing mother (that is, amounts in excess of (a) medical costs, (b) food and similar support during pregnancy, and (c) strictly limited costs designed to improve the welfare of the child through improving the state of the mother). No large "payoff" amounts as if they were paying for a service like "provide us with a child". Kind of like what is prohibited for adoption. It is one thing to bear a child for a _friend_ because they are infertile. It is quite another to become a baby factory for pay. The state can permit the former without permitting the latter.

Since the "choice" meme is paramount in "reproductive rights", no contract should preclude the mother's rights to bear a child (even if "defective"). As a result, the state should mandate that every valid surrogacy contract MUST state this. As a default, I would suggest that every contract should also provide that all medical costs through to delivery are to be paid (probably should be put in escrow up front) EVEN IF the contracting couple decides they don't want the child. That's REAL "choice" for you. It's just the cost of this kind of contract: don't get into surrogacy if you are not going to pay for full medical costs NO MATTER WHAT happens to the child.

Any contract that *sets up* a marriage *by means of* envisaging the dissolution of the marriage is wrong. To make it part of what sets up your marriage legally that you have set out terms for "what happens in the event of a divorce" is to build instability into your marriage from the outset rather than envisaging it as permanent.

Very true. The point is that marriage is at root a certain kind of union, it has a given reality that we have to accept rather than a contract whose terms we construct at will. Any contractual terms which are fundamentally incompatible with the kind of reality it is at root will invalidate the contract.

One of the essential aspects of marriage is the consent: the parties must freely consent to the elements that make the agreement that of marriage.

Another of the essential elements of marriage is permanence, "until death do us part." A contract for a year or until some extraneous event takes place (graduation from college, losing your lucrative job, etc) means the agreement isn't "for life" and thus isn't marriage.

So any terms written into a contract that specify what will happen in divorce would seem, at the outset, to imply a lack of full consent toward the contract being "for life". The very act of providing clauses "if it doesn't work out" is, ipso facto, an interference in willing that it be for life. And thus the required consent is defective.

That said, there could be some terms of a contract that do not interfere with the essentials of marriage. For example, a contract to return property to the bride's family upon her death would not automatically, on its face, seem to defy the required elements of marriage. I say "seem" for there is some room for concern about another aspect of marriage: since the point of marriage is a union of lives, this would seem to imply a union of property as well. Some societies, I think, insist that ALL properties are merged and mutual property upon the event of marriage, where other societies seem to allow limitations, such as that all property acquired during the marriage are held mutually, but not property held before the marriage. This would seem to be plausible in the cases of a woman marrying a second time after she has been married and had kids with the first husband, and became a widow: It would seem reasonable that the property of the first marriage would continue to be destined for the good of the kids of the first marriage specifically, instead of being merged indistinguishably with the property of the second marriage. Especially if the kids of the first marriage are in their mid to late teens - to old to fold into the new marriage as if they were simply subject to the new husband as if they were his kids, but not yet ready to be financially and socially independent.

Since the typical pre-nuptial agreement does spell out division of property upon divorce, I would agree with Lydia that spells doom for the marriage itself. But that doesn't preclude other agreements that completely respect the inherent nature of marriage itself.

Interesting arguments...I admit, I have gotten very used to the opposite view, and personally find it troubling to think that any American (given the present family court system) would be comfortable with a marriage that had not had additional protections added to insure it conforms to Christian views. I have seen to many divorces and family troubles among my undergraduate professors to ever have sufficient trust to get married without one (at least in the United States), to be frank. It would be desirable if there was a punitive form of prenuptial agreement, but I am not sure if that would stand the court system or not.

It's fine for there to be a background in civil law that says "what happens in the event of a divorce or separation" or that deals with child custody issues when a husband and wife wish to live separately.That is because civil law has to deal with dysfunction in society, since dysfunction happens. And there are better and worse civil laws of that kind. E.g. A civil law that unilaterally gives custody to one parent without consideration of the best interests of the child is imprudent, which is part of what is wrong with sharia divorces.

But there is a huge difference between a background in civil law for such dysfunctional cases and an agreement between the marrying parties, specifically, personally, that *envisages dysfunction* as a later state of their own relationship and provides for it.

Notice that this could be a problem with a pre-nuptial agreement that envisaged, say, addiction and separation even if civil divorce with the possibility of remarriage were not envisaged. As I understand it, even the Catholic view that divorce is impossible does not forbid physical separation in extreme cases such as physical abuse or substance addiction causing harm to children, draining all the family finances, etc. But it is still hugely problematic to write up an agreement as part of kicking off your marriage that says, "Okay, here is how we will handle it if one of us becomes addicted to cocaine and starts spending all the money on that and/or getting dangerous and the other one has to move out with the kids and live somewhere else."

I fully understand that, and I would not recommend it in a condition where civil law was not extremely dysfunctional. It would indeed serve no purpose! However, in current conditions of civil law (and popular custom) in the United States I can see a need for something that can add to existing conditions of civil law if a marriage is to be handled appropriately by the legal system.

As for the main topic of this thread, I do have to basically agree with your views (which are incidentally, the Catholic views): Surrogacy is evil. I am not sure if I have much more to add. The discussion on the fate of already implanted embryos is a hard one, but it is one where we need to distinguish natural conditions from deliberately human imposed evil, and that is a serious distinction, and to me a good argument for humans to withdraw from places where they should not have interfered.

Thank you for this Lydia. I used to be for IVF and surrogacy until I read your stuff on it. I had another question to ask you about it but I stopped reading when my boyfriend came over and then he proposed to me, (we are now engaged!) but I can't remember now what my question was. Maybe it will come back to me...


Congratulations, Rachael! And I'm glad I've made a difference.

As a Protestant, I think that we have too often been quick to label the anti-position on these matters the "Catholic position" as if it is esoteric and has nothing to do with us. But as a matter of the natural law, it is accessible to all.

I echo that sentiment. I remember when I first learn that what I had thought of as the "Catholic position" on contraception was held by Luther and Calvin. The "anti position" on that has been the consensus fidelium throughout the whole Christian tradition until about a hundred years ago, when most Protestant churches changed their position, apparently not because of careful and circumspect theological reasoning, but because they had already changed their practice, due, it seems, to the economic incentives against large families within a modern industrial economy.

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