Anderson Cooper, Abandoned Ukraine Babies, and the Problem with Surrogacy
Earlier this month, CNN journalist Anderson Cooper made a surprise on-air announcement: “On Monday, I became a father,” announced a visibly moved Cooper.
Every new life is a miracle and a gift. Wyatt Morgan Cooper (the newborn baby) is a miracle and a gift. His life is a thing to be celebrated. But celebrating Wyatt’s life does not mean that we avoid asking some pertinent questions, for there’s an odd thing about this birth announcement. Anderson Cooper is an openly active homosexual. At the risk of stating the obvious, having a baby involves certain biological processes in which a woman plays an irreplaceable role. Cooper’s announcement came just days after we celebrated Mother’s Day. Where, then, is Wyatt’s mother?
Erased, it would seem. Or rather, defined out of existence. Yes, there is a woman involved. In fact, likely two, but they are not mothers. One, yes, is genetically related to the child. A genetic test would declare that she is the mother, since 50% of the child’s DNA would match her DNA. But genetic tests don’t pay attention to progressive linguistic engineering. They don’t know that this woman with the perfect genetic match is merely an “egg donor”—a provider of necessary raw biological materials—but not a mother.
The other woman grew this child in her own womb. She nurtured him with her own body and with her own blood; she felt him grow and kick; she suffered labor pains or underwent a C-section; and she brought this child into the world in pain with her own body. Her body and the baby’s body intermingled, so that even still she bears cells from her baby in her body. But she is not a mother. She is a “surrogate.”
Cooper says he is “eternally grateful” to the surrogate. But despite having done all the things that a mother does in bringing about the miracle of new life, she has no rights over the child she bore. She may never even see the child again. The child will not know the warmth of his mother’s body, will not nurse and sleep in her arms, and may never again hear the soothing sound of her voice, which he would have learned to recognize in her womb.
Brave New World
The story gets stranger, however. Cooper has announced that, for reasons unclear, he will be “co-parenting” Wyatt with his former homosexual partner. Though Cooper publicly broke up with Benjamin Maisani in 2018, he said of him a few days ago: “He’s my family and I want him to be Wyatt’s family, as well.”
Last week, I wrote about the way progressives are actively redefining family. This, however, is a new definition of family, new even to me: two men, no longer romantically involved or (presumably) living in the same house, in some vague sense “co-parenting” a child to which one of them is not genetically related, and who was brought into the world through the Brave New World process involving labs, technicians, multiple women, and legal contracts.
Meanwhile, Cooper has said that he won’t be taking paternity leave to care for the child, as he is too busy covering the coronavirus pandemic on CNN. So we must wonder, who is caring for the child?
It never fails to amaze me that liberals still accuse pro-lifers of viewing women as just “incubators” for babies when their ideology has quite literally reduced women to incubators—as biological machines necessary only to attain their sought-for product. Wombs for rent. Meanwhile, breathe a word of criticism against the surrogacy process, and the online mob will accuse you of not truly being “pro-life” (after all, there is a baby involved!) and of being a “bigot” and a “hater” to boot.
But pro-lifers are not against surrogacy because we are against babies. We are against surrogacy because we believe that babies aren’t commodities to be bought and sold. We are against surrogacy because we believe babies deserve to be conceived, “begotten” through the loving union of their parents, and to know their mother and father. And we are against surrogacy because we are against the degradation and enslavement of women.
COVID Surrogacy Disaster in the Ukraine
We don’t know the details of Cooper’s arrangement with his surrogate. It may be that she was what is called an “altruistic surrogate.” In other words, she volunteered for the role, as opposed to being paid.
Even many progressives recognize that there is something disturbing about allowing rich and powerful westerners (often homosexual men) to pay (often poor) women large sums of money to offer up their bodies for nine months, going through the deeply intimate process of pregnancy, only to hand over the resulting child at the end. And so, they advocate for “altruistic surrogacy.”
Unsurprisingly, however, finding women willing to voluntarily shoulder such a burden is impossible for most individuals. Thus, when all else fails, there’s always money and power.
Earlier this month, a number of startling photos began circulating on the Internet. These photos show dozens of newborn babies in bassinets in a hotel room in Kiev, Ukraine. BioTexCom, a Ukrainian surrogacy company, released the photos to raise awareness about the fact that some 100 babies in the Ukraine born to surrogates are stranded due to the coronavirus, with their adoptive parents unable to travel to the country to collect the babies they purchased.
It seems that in the Ukraine there are “hundreds” of babies born every month via commercial surrogacy. For the present, the Ukraine allows this practice, just like many other poor countries, and there are many poor women willing to take the risk in exchange for pay. These are women like 28-year-old “Arina” profiled in a Marie Claire article. Before becoming a surrogate, Arina was making $300 a month as a taxi caller and selling clothing online. As a surrogate, she will earn $15,000.
But the coronavirus pandemic has thrown a wrench into the works and into her life. Arina has a partner and two other children. With the spread of coronavirus, and with her approaching her due date, the Israeli surrogacy company wanted to monitor her pregnancy closely, so she had to travel 12 hours away from home, where she is currently staying in an apartment. She hasn’t seen her two children in over two months. Meanwhile, even when she has the baby, the French couple purchasing her baby will not be able to pick him/her up due to the closed border.
Ukrainian Bishops Urge Commercial Surrogacy Ban
The photos of the babies in the hotel have sparked an international controversy. Some Ukrainian politicians are looking at banning commercial surrogacy. Meanwhile, two Ukrainian bishops put out a strongly worded statement urging a ban. The bishops decried the photos of the crying babies “deprived of maternal touch, parental warmth, selfless care, much-needed love.” Politicians, they said, must do what is necessary to “ensure that Ukrainian mothers do not have to trade their bodies and their children for their own and their families’ survival.”
While even “altruistic surrogacy” is morally unacceptable, they said, “commercial surrogacy, ‘from a moral point of view, deserves an even harsher assessment because it adds the moral evil of buying and selling the functions of the body and the person of the newborn child. No circumstances or consequences can justify the practice of surrogacy.’”
“So-called surrogate motherhood, which should not be called ‘motherhood,’ entails not only the horrible phenomena now manifested,” they continued, “but, at its core, is a moral evil and brings countless sufferings and hardships to all participants in this deal, including the child, surrogate mother, members of her family, and, finally, the people who order and ‘produce’ children.”
“Every child is a gift of God that should be gratefully accepted in the marriage of a man and a woman,” they said. “Every child has the right to be conceived naturally, and every child has the right to be born into a family and to be brought up in an atmosphere of love by its father and its mother.”
Read that last paragraph again. That’s what it means to be pro-life.
It is good for us to be reminded as we discuss these issues that every human life, no matter how it may have been engendered, is precious and good and of incalculable value. The desire—within the marriage of man and woman—to beget a baby is a powerful one, and when properly ordered, a good desire. However, we see that desire can tragically lead to a belief that one has a right to a child and a right to use any means to obtain one, thus rendering a child a commodity. The child, having been rendered a “product” not of equal dignity to his or her parents, can then be sold, bartered, or in some cases when deemed unworthy, destroyed.
We should be appalled and angered by the situations we have addressed in this column. We must defend and state unambiguously that a human child, a being of intrinsic worth and dignity—a person—has the right to be engendered through the fruitful union of his parents and is not a product to be bought or sold. Furthermore, it is time to end surrogacy—this form of modern-day slavery—and its blatant assault upon women, children, and the goods of marriage as designed by God.
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Father Shenan J. Boquet was ordained in 1993 and is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Roman Catholic Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining HLI as its President in August 2011. Father Boquet earned a BA from Saint Joseph Seminary College, a Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Notre Dame Seminary Graduate School of Theology, a Certification Program in Health Care Ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and a Master of Science in Bioethics (MSBe) from the University of Mary in Bismarck. In 2018, Father Boquet was awarded an honorary visiting professorship by the Benedict XVI Catholic University in Trujillo, Peru. He is available for interviews and bookings on behalf of HLI by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.