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Parenthood At Any Price
Surrogacy’s Strange Bedfellows

What kind of culture war issue could ally Catholics and feminists against Evangelicals and gay rights advocates? Meet the “gestational carrier” for hire.

Published on: May 19, 2014
Christopher White is the Director of Education and Programs at the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a 2013-2014 Robert Novak Fellow.
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  • Thirdsyphon

    This seems like a good deal of gratuitous handwringing in search of an actual problem. Until someone can point to the concrete social ills being wrought by surrogacy (so far my count stands at zero), I’m inclined to take this alleged “tragedy” with a huge grain of salt.

    • Wicked_mom

      There are many problems with surrogate parenting. But the public dismisses them. See babies suffer trauma when separated form their mother. They are unaware they are a contract. It is the same problem with infant adoption but the public also dismisses that. If those who forever what reason cannot have a baby I suggest they foster parent.

      • Adam C. Kolasinski

        Well said!

      • Thirdsyphon

        The public dismisses that concern because no such problem with infant adoption exists. The trauma of separation, if any, is no more accessible in memory than the trauma of birth.

        • Adam C. Kolasinski

          The testimony of thousands of donor-conceived people who are now adults suggests otherwise:

          http://anonymousus.org/stories/#.U3u4vPldV8E

          • Corlyss

            Regrettably, anecdotal evidence is pretty useless. I suggest that your opinion and that of Wicked and Jan represent an ideological position, an article of faith, without evidence to substantiate it. Show me an unbiased study that supports your collective positions.

          • Adam C. Kolasinski

            There’s more than anecdotal evidence. There are many peer-reviewed studies showing that children suffer when their are severed from their biological parents. There’s also plenty of evidence showing that it matters who cares for the child. I don’t have time to give you all the references. Spend a bit of time on Google Scholar and you can find it all for yourself.

            I also find it very odd that you think the burden of proof is on me, not on you. Why are you taking it as the default position that it doesn’t matter who cares for the child? Why do you not demand evidence of that proposition?

          • Thirdsyphon

            The burden of proof is on you, Adam, because you’re claiming that a practice as old as humanity itself, one which been viewed as a quintessentially virtuous deed since the dawn of recorded history and beyond, must now be reconceptualized as a societal evil. That’s not an inherently hopeless position (the arguments against treating women as chattel and discriminating against gay people started out from the same place) but it’s a claim that requires the support of some awfully strong arguments if you hope to be persuasive. . . and the burden of proof is on you.

          • Corlyss

            “Spend a bit of time on Google Scholar and you can find it all for yourself.”

            You know, for many years I assumed the burden of rebutting ridiculous outrageous claims made by scientific illiterates that appeared in just our small corner of the internet. One day it dawned on me that I was doing their work for them, and they didn’t give a fig about my hard facts and rebutting evidence because they had made up their minds to attach themselves to an appealing myth that somehow validated their emotionally sterile existences. How deeply they felt about their beliefs was all that mattered to them. Not doing that any more, thank you.

            “I also find it very odd that you think the burden of proof is on me, not on you.”

            You’re the one making the ridiculous and outrageous claims imputing the sensations and desires of adults to infants. I ain’t doin’ your work for you. Either put up your proof or shut up.

          • jan stewart

            ummm I havent seen too many hard facts from you…….a lot of hearsay perhaps

          • Andrew Allison

            Because, if you want to refute an argument, you need to provide a counter argument.

          • Wicked_mom

            Google the dark side of adoption. Google primal wound.

          • Corlyss

            Google as an authority for citation? Com’on! You know as well as I that all Google is is an aggregator. It takes all the mentions of a term it can find with its algorithm and delivers it to you to discriminate among the references. It comes up with as much BS if not more than it does scholarly references.

          • jan stewart

            dear oh dear is that all you have ……..the Australian senate enquiry into forced adoption is very very real ….do I really need to supply a link?

          • Wicked_mom

            Live must be lovely in your glass house

          • jan stewart

            useless for you perhaps…..there is much evidence world wide. Google forced adoption in Australia.

        • Wicked_mom

          Sadly you could not be more wrong. I suggest you research it a bit more.

          • Corlyss

            Research? Like what?

        • jan stewart

          strange how it is illegal to remove kittens and pups from their mothers until six weeks of age because of the trauma it involves……yet people insist it involves no trauma to humans? huh……

          • Andrew Allison

            Tedious. If we were to carefully study kittens and pups we might discover, as we have with humans, that the trauma occurs after establishment of the post-natal bond.

      • Andrew Allison

        There is no scientific evidence that babies suffer trauma when separated from their mothers at birth. The only way such evidence could be developed is a study of the psychological well-being of statistically significant population of babies who were and were not separated, for any reason, from their biological mothers at birth.

        • Adam C. Kolasinski

          Just because a they are psychologically healthy in the long term does not mean they did not suffer as a result of being separated from their birth mothers.

          Do you know anyone who lost his or her mother while a small child? I do. They all turned out fine, but they also all feel a profound sense of loss from being deprived of their mother. Just because the person turned out fine does not justify inflicting on that person such a profound loss.

          There are several scientific surveys out there showing that a large percentage of donor-conceived children suffer emotionally from 1) not knowing their genetic roots and 2) from knowing that at least one biological parent did not want to be part of their life. Yes, many of them turn out “fine,” in that they are able to function as well-adjusted, productive adults when they grow up. That doesn’t justify what was done to them.

          • Andrew Allison

            Rubbish. How can a donor-conceived child possibly suffer emotionally from not knowing its genetic roots unless informed that they are not what it assumes? Perhaps you meant to write, “not knowing who their biological parents are.” Well guess what, studies show that a significant number of the children born to married couples don’t know who their biological parents are. Oddly, this doesn’t seem to result in emotional suffering.

        • Wicked_mom

          there are plenty of sources at the bottom of this article http://www.originsnsw.com/mentalhealth/id2.html

      • dan

        Well then maybe we should ban adoption as well as surrogacy. Force women to keep the children they deliver. Find the biological father – whomever he may be (even if he is the woman’s father) – and force him to provide for the child. For.The.Good.Of.The.Child.

        • Wicked_mom

          Yes we should ban infant adoption. So glad to see you get it. Maybe we need better access to birth control and better access to abortion. Yes we need that. You are so right in your snide reaction. Maybe men should be as shamed as women when an unplanned pregnancy happens.. I couldn’t agree more. But we so love shaming the woman who opens her legs. Since she was opening them for the man after all…

    • Adam C. Kolasinski

      Human trafficking is, in its very essence, a social ill. Deliberately creating children for sale is, in its very essence, a social ill. Severing all links a child has from both her birth mother and biological mother is, in its very essence, a social ill.

      • Wicked_mom

        Exactly. We have created a society in which children are required accessories. The truth is being unable to have children should end there. But it doesn’t.

      • Thirdsyphon

        I think you’re conflating three different things here. Or possibly four. Maybe five. The kind of human trafficking that involves exploitation and imprisonment is slavery in modern garb, and therefore by definition one of the gravest social ills imaginable. That should not be confused with the practice of “deliberately creating children for sale” to loving parents, which in turn shouldn’t be confused with surrogate motherhood, which in turn should not be confused with either egg/sperm donation or adoption, infant or otherwise.

        • Wicked_mom

          No the connection is all the same. Babies need their mommies. We all know this. But statements like yours dismisses that. Babies know one thing their mother. It does not matter the reason they are separated all lead to trauma.

          • Corlyss

            Babies need someone who cares for them. It’s no nevermind to them who does it as long as it is done.

          • Adam C. Kolasinski

            “Babies need someone who cares for them. It’s no nevermind to them who does it as long as it is done.”

            Really? And you know this how?

          • Andrew Allison

            Oh, let’s say the millions of newborns who do just fine without their birth mothers.

          • Adam C. Kolasinski

            Millions of people whose parents die when they are children do “just fine,” in that they manage to develop into healthy, well-adjusted adults. That in no way diminishes the fact that losing a parent is the cause of much suffering, and that it is a cruel thing to do to a child.

          • Corlyss

            Thousands of studies of infant brain and awareness development.

          • Wicked_mom

            Spoken as some on who has no clue whatsoever to the situation

          • Thirdsyphon

            Speaking as someone who’s lived the situation, Corlyss is right. I had no idea that I was adopted until I was told; and after I was told, I didn’t care. It probably helped that my parents gave me this information as soon as I was able to understand it (age 5 or so), but I didn’t find it traumatic in the least.

        • Adam C. Kolasinski

          “That should not be confused with the practice of “deliberately creating children for sale” to loving parents”

          Sale to loving parents? Are you kidding? I’m sorry, but purchasing a child and separating her from her mother is not an act of love.

          • Corlyss

            How does the child know? Survivability of childbirth is a fairly recent thing. If the mother dies and someone else takes over the role, the child never knows the difference unless someone tells it.

          • Adam C. Kolasinski

            Children know the difference. It matters who cares for the child. Biological links are important, and that is backed up by science. Spend some time on Google Scholar.

          • jan stewart

            Hahaha seriously……..

          • lhfry

            The adults know and that is what matters here. Those who buy babies from baby farms in third world countries are engaged in human trafficking, no matter what kind of veneer they want to place on it.

      • Andrew Allison

        Thee’s no trafficking involved.

      • Andrew Allison

        No argument bu, as explained below in the case of surrogacy (or adoption) not only is there no human trafficking involved but there’s no deliberate creation of a child for sale.

    • jan stewart

      have you ever heard of the hand maidens tale?

  • Andrew Allison

    “Surrogacy severs this prenatal attachment immediately after birth, which does a disservice to all parties involved.” How? The only conceivable (sorry) disservice is to the child. And how does surrogacy differ from adoption at birth?

    • Thirdsyphon

      Someone out there has probably adopted (sorry) the argument that it doesn’t, i.e.: that adoption is “human trafficking” as well. That argument, as silly as it is, would be completely in line with the logic that animates this article.

    • Adam C. Kolasinski

      Adoption at birth is usually an attempt to make the best of an unavoidable bad situation in which a mother is either unable or unwilling to care for her child. The child is not conceived with the intent of having him or her sold upon birth.

      In a paid surrogacy arrangement, on the other hand, a child is created with the specific intent of having the said child sold after birth. That is what makes it so insidious.

      • jan stewart

        explain to me why either is not child trafficking? do some research on how much it costs to buy a newborn for adoption.

        • jan stewart

          my apologies..this should have been for Thirdsyphon

          • Thirdsyphon

            Adoption isn’t “child trafficking” for the same reason that a lawful arrest isn’t “kidnapping” and surgery isn’t “assault with a deadly weapon”. Intentions matter, a lot.

          • Wicked_mom

            What matters is in all cases the BABY suffers. We need to stop this failed social experiment. It is wrong to separate babies from their mothers. That’s it. The TRAUMA is the same. Again RESEARCH it a bit..

          • Corlyss

            How does the insensible baby suffer? All it cares about is that someone cares for it and loves it. What possible difference could it make to the child who does it?

          • Thirdsyphon

            None, Corlyss. It makes no difference at all. I don’t know what books these folks have been reading, but I can tell you firsthand that they’re wrong.

          • Wicked_mom

            I know first hand I’m not wrong

          • Corlyss

            It looks to me to be more evidence of a) the massive scientific ignorance that produces such nonsense as the vaccination hysteria and b) the obsessive emotional exhibitionism that afflicts the so many on the internet and social media in particular. Hang your psychoses out there and watch how many flock to share and support you and reinforce your delusions.

          • Wicked_mom

            You are also sadly wrong. Your on the internet for crying out loud look up adoption trauma.

          • Corlyss

            Is this anything like the phony “recovered memories” craze?

          • Wicked_mom

            No not one bit. Why are you so nasty? You obviously have no first hand knowledge yet you feel the need to insult me?

          • Corlyss

            I suggest you take time out of your pursuit of this phantom cause and take a course in statistical analysis and proofs.

          • Wicked_mom

            Condencending $it<}. I know first hand. I work with first mothers and adoptees everyday. I am a first mom. I hear the stories everyday. Now dare you call us phantom cause. It is painfully obvious you prefer to pretend to be right rather then be informed. It's easy to sit there in your ivory tower with no real life knowledge of the situation. I dare you to spend 10 minutes researching it

          • jan stewart

            I suggest you back up your own posts with the same…..

          • Andrew Allison

            I’m inclined to agree, but to return to the subject of the thread, the reason that the child is separated from its mother doesn’t matter in terms of any supposed trauma.

          • Wicked_mom

            Yet when I went on my facebook there were three more posts of people looking for their birth families. Why is that is adoption is so awesome?

          • Andrew Allison

            What do any of your posts have to do with the subject of the thread, which is whether it matters to a newborn why or how it is separated from its biological mother?

          • Wicked_mom

            Separating mothers and children is inhumane. It needs to stop.

          • Andrew Allison

            Yet another off topic comment.

          • jan stewart

            we dont do anything about death. We talk and explain and then have some where to grieve……that doesn’t happen in adoption or surrogacy….the baby is removed from its mother ( and her family ) and as it grows knows no where to grieve or mourn its loss. Compounding the issue

          • lhfry

            The subject of the original article was not about the separation of mothers and their children – it was about the commodification of procreation and the possible alliance against it by groups that normally oppose one another.
            I have not seen that Thirdsyphon and his ideological companions participating in this discussion have addressed the baby farms that already exist in India, Nigeria, and elsewhere in which babies are clearly sold. When the sperm and egg are purchased and then implanted in a rented womb, it has clearly become a commercial transaction.

          • jan stewart

            I have no idea why people think it is awsome …..when you dont know who you are or where you came from can be fairly traumatising at best….to have the natural balance of your life changed…

          • Wicked_mom

            Because they have watched Juno. Clearly those of us who live this don’t know more then Hollywood. I understand this is not adoption but the baby knows the person who they developed in is no longer there. I’m always perplexed by the need for them to be right. It’s almost like we are telling them Santa is not real.

          • Adam C. Kolasinski

            This study by the NIH suggests otherwise:

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3115616/

          • Andrew Allison

            The link concerns “the occurrence of a mother-child separation of a week or longer within the first two years of life”, not whether any supposed trauma depends on the reason for the separation. What we need, of course, is a study which examines the effect of separation at birth which, since the child has no post-natal bonding with its mother, is very far from the same thing.

          • jan stewart

            there is plenty of research done lol…I personally dont think the reason makes much difference …to seperate a newborn from its mother is traumatic to both

          • jan stewart

            lordy lordy……the baby does not grow in a vaccuum….since when has a baby been insensible?

          • jan stewart

            when a baby is sold and money exchages hand ( hey a white blue eyed blonde baby is way more axpensive than a black one ) it is human trafficking……what else could it be? adoption? bwahahaha

        • Corlyss

          As long as the ultimate purpose is to bring desiring parents together with needy infants, what does it matter if it is “child trafficking?” Does it strike anyone else as passing strange that the state sets up a lot of rules to control who adopts whom while at the same time it turns a blind eye to the grotesquely unqualified nature of many parents with natural children to be parents?

          • jan stewart

            needy infants? huh? more like need adults…..

        • Andrew Allison

          The explanation is perfectly simple: in the case of surrogacy, it’s a uterus being rented, not a child being sold; and, at least in the US, the costs are not associated with adoption are not child-specific. The latter is often not the case outside the US, but, at the risk of being repetitious, the subject of this thread is whether is matters to a newborn why or how it is separated from its biological mother.

          • jan stewart

            a newborn does not remain a newborn…hope fully it grows into an adult…..but the trauma of being removed from its parent ( and now matter which way you slice the cheese the mother is the one with the uterus ) colours the childs life and therefore the life of the adult.

          • Andrew Allison

            Maybe, but the point is that any trauma resulting from the separation resulting from surrogacy is no different from that resulting from at-birth adoption or the death of the mother from childbirth. The nonsensical argument that this supposed (I’d really like to see some solid evidence that it exists) trauma is a reason to deprecate surrogacy requires that the latter two be treated the same way, i.e., no at-birth adoptions and save the mother, not the child?

      • Andrew Allison

        Perhaps, but that wasn’t my point. I should perhaps have written “how does severing prenatal attachment at birth differ between surrogacy and adoption?”

        • Adam C. Kolasinski

          With surrogacy the severance is premeditated and unnecessary. With adoption it is (hopefully) done only when unavoidable or when the alternative is worse. The child suffers equally in both cases.

          • Andrew Allison

            That’s exactly what I suggested.

    • Corlyss

      “And how does surrogacy differ from adoption at birth?”
      Expense? I dunno. I’m just asking. Seems to me the entire movement owes its existence to the inability of society to deal quickly and efficiently with adoption leaving kids in the foster system till nobody wants them. The activists need to try to do something about the inertia in the American adoption machinery. If I were queen, I’d ban all these expensive measures for yuppies to perpetuate their own (questionably useful) genes until there were no more kids awaiting adoption.

      • Tom_Tildrum

        There are no kids awaiting adoption in the US. Children in the foster system are generally not available for adoption, because parental rights have not been terminated and are not going to be terminated. This is why adoptive parents in the US look to other countries, or seek out pregnant teenagers for adoption at birth, or pursue donor or surrogacy arrangements. There is no pool of unadopted children in the US.

        • Wicked_mom

          So it is all about the parents wants?

  • Tom_Tildrum

    Now that the battle for same-sex marriage is becoming increasingly settled, I suppose it’s inevitable that a rear-guard action will now be fought against same-sex procreation. The same arguments from tradition, mysticism, and unspecified “harm to children” are being re-purposed, with no more substance than before

    • Adam C. Kolasinski

      “Now that the battle for same-sex marriage is becoming increasingly settled, I suppose it’s inevitable that a rear-guard action will now be fought against same-sex procreation”

      Sorry, but there is no such thing as same-sex procreation. Any and all procreation must involve two parents of the opposite sex. Looks like the proponents of same sex parenting will continue to deny reality much the same way the proponent of SSM did.

      It also looks like, I’m afraid, that advocates of same-sex parenting will also ignore the actual scientific evidence that cuts against their position, just as did the advocates of SSM. There is a mountain of evidence showing that children suffer harm when they are separated from their biological parents. Here’s just one study for you to consider:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3115616/

      • dan

        You are incorrect : procreation need not involve two “parents” of the opposite sex. Any individual can procreate without being a parent. Parents may choose to procreate with the help of others when their own biology is insufficient for the process.

        Please stop using a link to an inapplicable study to stigmatize children who have been separated from one or both of their genetics from the moment of birth. Yes, you are stigmatizing children who made no decisions about the structure of their family.

        • jan stewart

          you need two individual of the opposite sex to create a child to parent……selling said child off to others does not remove its parentage

          • dan

            You need gametes from two individuals of the opposite sex. Parenting is different from biology.

  • lhfry

    Industrialized baby farms already exist in India, Nigeria and other poor countries. In India, the surrogates live in dormitories, are monitored during their pregnancies, and the “products” are all delivered by caesarian section. Surrogates are a lot cheaper to hire in poor countries and westerners, particularly homosexual westerners, are taking advantage of this. I cancelled my subscription to the Washington Post after it published a laudatory story about two “married” men raising money to buy eggs and rent a surrogate by selling baked goods through an online site. Baking for Babies, it was called. Ugh.
    In many cases, eggs or sperm or both are purchased. Women sell their eggs after producing many at once as the result of a regimen of hormone treatment. No one knows the longterm effects upon the CHILD (or the woman, for that matter) following such procedures. Now sperm. There are already cases of a particular sperm “donor” (they are paid) “fathering” more than 100 offspring. What happens should a couple of these “children” meet in later life, marry, and produce their own children in the normal way? Since sperm “donation” is anonymous, this could easily happen. Finally, it won’t be long before surrogates will not be necessary. I’m sure the experiments are already being conducted in the darker corners of the world to provide a substitute environment for such production.
    A Google search will tell anyone what the “concrete social ills being wrought by” artificial reproductive technology are – to address the question raised by Thirdsyphon. Hint: the mafia is involved, women are kidnapped and sold, as are the babies. This is not human trafficking?
    There are safe, effective, and inexpensive ways to enhance fertility in married heterosexual couples who are having trouble conceiving. If these methods are not successful, adoption is also possible. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

    • dan

      You lose all credibility when you put quotes around the work married when it describes a lawfully married couple. Your argument goes completely downhill from there. Just so you know.

      • jan stewart

        are they lawfully married? in which state or province or country?

        • dan

          The original story referred to a lawfully married couple from NY, USA. I have no idea in which jurisdiction the couple from the Post story mentioned by “Ihfry” were married – I didn’t read it.

      • lhfry

        The reason state authorities have historically sanctioned marriage between a man and a woman is that the union can produce a child. The state does not want the responsibility of that child and so it establishes laws and regulations that support marriage as permanent, monogamous and exclusive (to assure who the father of the child is). Obviously, human beings don’t always follow the rules and one could argue that the rules today are observed only in the breach. However, two men cannot be married in the historical sense because they cannot procreate without a third party. Hence, they cannot be married and the quotes are justified.

        • dan

          Meh. There is no requirement in any marriage statute in this country that the married parties be able to produce children themselves without assistance. Just because you base your “historical” view of marriage on a fallacy does not make it accurate to say that two people who can lawfully marry in a particular jurisdiction cannot be married. Your not liking a particular law doesn’t give you the right to say it isn’t valid.

  • B-Sabre

    How about a tangible issue that this brings up – foreign couples using US surrogates to have a child, which (under current laws) then has US citizenship, which then brings along benefits to the foreign-born parents if/when they wish to emigrate. There have been reports of wealthy Chinese couples using US surrogates to both avoid China’s “one-child-only” laws and to get citizenship for that child. This is definitely a wrinkle in citizenship that the Founding Fathers couldn’t have foreseen. Do we need to change citizenship laws so that they do not apply to surrogate-born children of foreign nationals? Does it matter?

    • dan

      It’s a bit of a red herring. Yes, all children born here are consider US citizens regardless of their parents’ citizenship or residence. But emigration benefits are very limited and generally must wait until the child is an adult.

      • dan

        Oh – and US citizens, no matter where they reside, can’t excape the reach of the IRS. So there is a bit of cold comfort in that citizenship. If you have a problem with foreign nationals having children here through surrogacy (I don’t), then you can maybe have your mind put at ease with the knowledge that we may have the potential to collect income and estate taxes from the US-citizen children at some point in the future.

  • Jane the Actuary

    Reading the comments below is dismal. Apparently we can’t agree that the manufacture and purchase of human beings is wrong. If scientists manage to invent an artificial womb which replicates the real thing sufficiently well, will anyone who’s unable to procreate in the usual fashion (or chooses not to) just go to the Baby Store to buy their baby? Besides which, Wesley J Smith at nationalreview.com reports periodically on the fact that “egg donors” (who are actually “egg sellers”) put their health at risk with the superovulation drugs involved.

    • dan

      Manufacture? Really?? Would you tell an infertile heterosexual couple that turns to IVF in order to conceive that they have “manufactured” their child?

      • jan stewart

        yes
        if they havent used their own biology

  • dewdly

    True to form the feminist view of surrogacy is concerned only with its impact on the woman. Apparently, the fact that a child is being bought and sold is of no consequence. How could it be otherwise with people who have no qualms about killing the inconvenient fetus?

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