Surrogate motherhood is the oldest form of assisted reproduction. Historians relate that it was practiced in several ancient societies, usually for the purpose of circumventing laws that allowed a husband to divorce his wife on the grounds of her alleged infertility.
Altruistic surrogacy is a surrogacy arrangement in which a woman carries the child as an act of generosity and does not receive financial compensation apart from medical expenses and such. As in any surrogacy arrangement, the woman carries a child conceived by IVF or artificial insemination and then gives the child to the intended parents after the birth.
This article is meant to be an overview of the types of surrogacy that are being discussed openly in the public square, so Catholics may be informed of the types of surrogacy and ethical issues surrounding them. It may be stated right from the outset that there are no true “pros” of surrogacy; the act is considered gravely immoral and may not be entered into under any circumstances.
Among the ethical issues with in vitro fertilization is the fact that many human embryos are discarded in the IVF process. In addition, women who use IVF to become pregnant often opt for “pregnancy reductions” (read: abortions) afterward to selectively kill off the “extra” embryos.
In vitro fertilization is a method by which a male’s sperm* and a female’s eggs are collected by a physician, then mixed in a Petri dish in the hopes that one or more of the eggs will become fertilized. Science teaches us that, from the very first moment an egg is fertilized, it becomes an embryo—and an unrepeatable human being now exists.
What are good and faithful Catholics supposed to do when they encounter the anguish or despair in life that comes from an inability to do something they desperately want and that seems so natural—like having children? How should we apply our ability to trust to a situation like this?