I am reading opinions about surrogacy or bellies for rent that suffer from a tremendous lack of consistency.
I think that when it comes to forming an opinion on a subject, the important thing is to be well informed about it. And unfortunately, with surrogacy there are many people who take a position ignoring many issues. We are going to see below some especially important ones and that should be decisive when it comes to forming a minimally solid opinion.
1. Each surrogate pregnancy costs at least 24 human lives
Surrogacy is a method of assisted reproduction in which a woman is inseminated with an egg that is not hers, either from the woman who wants to keep that child or from a donor. In surrogacy, it is usual to fertilize the ovule by in vitro fertilization (IVF), since it is more effective than artificial insemination. In IVF, the ovule is fertilized outside the pregnant woman's uterus and is then transferred to that uterus for the pregnancy to develop.
The great ethical problem with this procedure is that it costs human lives. Such as pointed out Antonio Pardo, Physician and Deputy Director of the Master's Degree in Bioethics at the University of Navarra, in IVF "to obtain a child, it is necessary, in the optimal case, to have used an average of 24 embryos". Thus, to obtain a baby by surrogacy, at least 24 human lives must be destroyed, since the embryo is the first stage of our existence as human beings. It is incoherent to declare oneself pro-life and support that. What is coherent is to support abortion and surrogacy, since in both cases we are talking about processes in which human lives are destroyed.
2. The disconnect between motherhood, pregnancy and childbirth
Another ethical issue that is very important when assessing surrogacy is that which refers to its social and legal consequences. All over the world, motherhood is linked to pregnancy and childbirth. The mother of a baby is the woman who has conceived it, has gestated it and has given birth to it. The surrogacy breaks with this figure at the time of conception and with it, it ends up separating maternity from gestation and childbirth. This can have very serious legal consequences, such as the attempt to redefine motherhood and separate it from its natural process.
This issue is very important when assessing the right that the surrogate mother has over the baby in a surrogate pregnancy. Could she refuse to give up the child she has gestated and given birth to and face a lawsuit for not giving that child to other people, simply because she signed a prior agreement? This case has already occurred in the US: the so-called Baby case M, a baby born in 1986 by surrogacy, specifically by artificial insemination. The surrogate mother wanted to see her baby, but the couple who had signed the agreement sued her in court. Justice ended up agreeing with the surrogate mother. Unlinking maternity from pregnancy and childbirth is very dangerous and can lead to aberrational situations.
3. The merchandization of human life
Another ethically controversial aspect of surrogacy is the fact of turning a human life into an object of commodification, an attack on human dignity that takes us back to the times when slavery was legal. This is so because what is usual in surrogacy is that the person who entrusts that child pays for it, thus making it an item that is bought and sold. There have been such scandalous cases as the a Japanese millionaire who ordered 16 babies from various Thai clinics. Even many supporters of surrogacy share this objection and defend "altruistic" surrogacy.
4. The myth of 'altruistic' surrogate pregnancy
Supporters of this option simply ignore the other ethical objections to surrogacy and consider that the mere fact of not mediating money makes it a legitimate process. The non-existence of any payment for surrogacy is easy to camouflage, since a pregnancy generates expenses and the payment for the baby could be camouflaged as part of those expenses. Another option is to present the payment as a mere donation to the pregnant woman. Legalizing altruistic surrogacy would open the door to such legal tricks to disguise paid surrogacy, which would be difficult to control.
About this Francisco José Contreras, Professor of Philosophy of Law at the University of Seville, already spoke in 2017: "Are there women willing to provide such an extraordinary service as bearing the child of another without receiving The answer to the latter seems to be in the negative: recent Swedish government research revealed that altruistic surrogate mothers are often paid behind the scenes". That research led to the complete ban on surrogacy in Sweden, both the paid one and the one who claimed to be "altruistic".
5. Surrogate pregnancy and baby selection
Another ethically controversial aspect that surrogacy gives rise to is the selection of babies. Turning human life into something that can be marketed opens the door for children to be obtained "à la carte" and for others to be discarded. These are not mere hypotheses: it is something that has already happened. In 2014, a surrogate mother in Thailand gave birth to two girls. The Australian couple who hired her kept the healthy girl and gave up her twin sister for having Down syndrome. They had previously asked the mother to abort the disabled girl. To make matters worse, the father who hired the baby had been convicted of child abuse.
In 2013, a couple from the United States offered $10,000 to the surrogate mother he had contracted to abort the baby, upon learning she had health problems. The parents threatened the mother with abandoning the baby and leaving it under the guardianship of the State. The mother, despite being unemployed and without a permanent home, decided to refuse to have an abortion.
In 2016, a California woman agreed to be a surrogate for a man and became pregnant with triplets via IVF. All three babies were in good health. Before they were born, the buyer of the children threatened the surrogate with bankruptcy if she did not abort one of the babies. They had agreed to $33,000 for the first baby and $6,000 for the second, and the man did not want a third. The mother refused to have an abortion and filed an unconstitutional complaint against California's surrogate motherhood law.
What we have just reviewed occurs, coincidentally, in countries where abortion is legal. In fact, one of the countries where surrogacy is legal and is most widespread is Russia, which is one of the countries in the world with the highest abortion rate. The laws that devalue human life have led, finally, to open the door to surrogacy, which is yet another devaluation.
It is incoherent for supporters of abortion to criticize surrogacy while claiming that a mother can do whatever she wants with her body, simply ignoring the unborn child. It is these types of fallacies that are opening the door to surrogacy where abortion has been legalized. But even more inconsistent is that people who call themselves pro-life support surrogacy, a process in which dozens of human lives are destroyed and that turns babies into merchandise, trampling on their human dignity.
Defending surrogacy by claiming that it is a way of bringing new lives into the world is an incoherent statement and one that ignores facts such as those reported. Ending innocent human lives cannot be justified as an excuse to gestate a new life (which is why I, as a pro-life, am also opposed to IVF). It's as crazy as justifying running over several children to get to a hospital faster and save the life of another child.
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