Here is something I read on Facebook.
Lengthy post ahead. I posted it as a FB note yesterday, but those things never get much traction, and the subject matter is important, though controversial. I don’t post this in condemnation but in caution:
Last year I sat in stunned silence at a WA State Senate hearing concerning the matter of commercial surrogacy. The proposed bill contained 55 pages of legislative text full of demands and bloviations about alleged parental rights. Its goal was to legalize commercial surrogacy without limit through the entire state.
I listened as concerned citizens pointed out the many dangerous loopholes in the bill and requested amendments that would safeguard both the women and children from potential abuse, but every request was categorically shot down as unnecessary.
There were no limits whatsoever to prevent abuse:
* No required background checks for prospective parents (Convicted pedophiles could commission children.)
* No limit to the number of children any given person could order. (One millionaire from Japan has fathered at least 13 children via surrogacy. His expressed goal is to father at least 1000 over time)
* No limit to the amount of compensation any given surrogate can receive (Hello, money-hungry human traffickers)
* No requirements for surrogates to be WA State residents (Again, traffickers?)
* No language preventing mentally disabled women from being exploited for commercial gain
In all 55 pages of text, there was but one single solitary reference to the needs of the child. The rest was emotionally manipulative language revealing a deep seated sense of entitlement and a devil-may-care attitude toward the myriad ethical implications on the people most greatly affected by surrogacy- the women and children.
Make no mistake: This is the legalized buying and selling of humans. The European Parliament in Brussels concluded that “surrogacy undermines the human dignity of the woman since her body and its reproductive functions are used as a commodity.” Even impoverished nations like India have recently banned commercial surrogacy (a $3.3 billion dollar annual revenue source) outright. If a poor country is willing to sacrifice $3.3 billion a year to protect women from the exploitation of commercial surrogacy, what’s our excuse?
One of the things that appeals to me most about first wave feminism is the dogged commitment to empowering women to be seen and treated as more than sex objects or breeders. Now, in the name of compassion, we are going 180 degrees in the opposite direction. In the last month alone, I’ve seen countless headlines referring to surrogate mothers as “carriers,” “a greenhouse for my seed,” and “incubators.” I literally saw one gay man write, “What do I need women for- until I want to have kids?”
Commercial surrogacy is dehumanizing enough in theory and even moreso in practice; Anyone else notice that the people hiring surrogates are the rich and privileged or that the women they’re hiring are usually poor and desperate for money? And don’t even get me started on the appallingly shallow requirements for the egg donors: supermodel looks, high IQs, low BMIs, no history of mental health issues. Third party reproductive efforts are increasingly normalizing a build-a-baby culture that encourages people to commission designer babies in much the same way they would commission designer handbags- through a catalog of handpicked traits and superficial standards aimed at achieving a superior product. Gee, why does this feel a bit reminiscent of Mengele?
And while the egg donors and surrogates are promised generous compensation for their efforts, no one ever seems to warn them of the often exorbitant costs of their labors that can sometimes include permanent sterility and even death. They don’t talk about the countless groups of donor-conceived adults who are speaking out in defense of the rights that were stripped from them as children.
There will be people reading this who feel tremendous rage at the things I’m saying, people who are amazing parents and grandparents of children conceived through surrogacy, people whose own painful experiences with infertility have led them to consider surrogacy as an option, good, kind, loving people whose lives have been transformed by the unspeakable joy of children they would not otherwise know and love. I’m sorry for any pain this causes any of you to experience. Your children, grandchildren, and loved ones are priceless, valuable, and important. Their lives matter, and I’m guessing that most of you are excellent influences on their lives. This post is not personal; it’s an objective assessment of the dangers, pitfalls, and ethical dilemmas inherent in the surrogacy process.
It’s a brutal but important truth: No one is entitled to other peoples’ bodies. Parenthood is a privilege, not a right. Babies should never be for sale. Women’s bodies should never be for rent.