Surrogacy: Some Background Info
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 must be stated right from the outset that there are no true “pros” of surrogacy, though we shall present some of the reasons people choose surrogacy.
Surrogacy is not even legal in all fifty states. In fact, the vast majority (43) are not even pro-surrogacy.
Types of Surrogacy Arrangements
There are two types of surrogacy and within those categories, three ways of conceiving a surrogate child.
- Altruistic Surrogacy, where the surrogate mother is not paid for her “services.”
- Commercial Surrogacy, where the surrogate mother is paid (usually by a middleman agency) and agrees to bear the child as a form of “employment.” In essence, the woman is renting out her womb to bear a child.
There are also three ways of conceiving the child in a surrogacy arrangement:
- Partial or Genetic Surrogacy: In this process, the prospective adoptive father donates his sperm to fertilize the egg of the surrogate mother. The child therefore has the father’s DNA.
- Total surrogacy: The sperm and egg are chosen from a donor bank to fertilize the egg inside the surrogate mother. The child will never know his/her biological parents, the adoptive parents are unrelated, as is the surrogate mother.
- Gestational surrogacy: The prospective adoptive parents both contribute their respective sperm and egg to conceive in vitro. Then, the embryo is implanted in the womb of the surrogate. The child has both a biological albeit unnatural mother and natural father.
The Seeming “Pros” of Surrogacy
To those who do not know the real issues involved, surrogacy may seem attractive. Why?
1.Surrogacy allows otherwise infertile couples to have a biologically related child.
There are cases where surrogacy is the only way that a couple can have a biologically related child. However, there are other viable options which are not immoral, the most obvious one being adoption.
2. Some think surrogacy is faster than adoption.
While a typical timeframe for the entire surrogacy process (surrogate screening until birth) is around 15 to 20 months, adoption can actually be equally as quick, 18-24 months or longer. The difference is too complex to be explained here, because adoption circumstances are so variable. Surrogacy seems easier.
3. Surrogacy, on its face, seems to satisfies both parties.
“Seems” is the operative word here. There have been court cases where the surrogate mother changes her mind and does not wish to give up her child. If her egg is used in the equation, biologically half the child’s DNA is hers and the legal (not just moral) situation can be very messy.
The Cons of Surrogacy
Because the above benefits can be enticing to the unschooled, especially in today’s cultural climate, it is key for Catholics to understand the ethics of surrogacy and why it is immoral.
1. All forms of surrogacy require in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination, which are themselves immoral.
This is the most important of these moral objections. Regardless of the type of surrogacy chosen, the child is conceived outside of the natural process, which means that no matter how loving and human the rest of the process is, it will still be immoral because of this evil and essential part. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that in vitro fertilization and other such reproductive technologies are morally unacceptable:
They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that “entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children (CCC 2377)
There are more reasons to reject IVF. One is that it involves the fertilization of multiple embryos. Each of these is a person. However, in implantation, it is possible for multiple embryos to implant. In this case, the medical technical will selectively abort “extra” children to make room for one or two, to try to encourage the pregnancy(ies).
Also, artificial insemination involves masturbation, a sin in itself. Due to the graphic aspects of this topic, we will leave it at that.
2. Surrogacy encourages same-sex couples as parents.
Becoming a parent is a sacred act, in which the husband and wife – spouses united in the most holy Sacrament of Marriage- unite with one another in the marital act and create another human being with God’s assisstance. Same-sex unions are disordered by nature, and should in no way be allowed to parent children. At this time in the United States some Catholic foster agencies have had to close their doors for refusing to bow to same-sex agenda which is attempting to force them to do so, while others are engaged in legal battles to maintain their rights to adopt children out to safe, wholesome families.
3. Surrogacy is essentially the same, in most instances, as child trafficking, apart from the timing.
In the case of partial and full surrogacy, the surrogate is essentially selling their own child. The only difference is that there is a contract prior to conception. How does one guarantee the safety of that child? The answer of course, is that one cannot. While there are laws against child abuse, with no overseeing adoption agency, the chances of abuse of the laws protecting the safety of both child and parents can be easily abused.
Surrogacy commercializes human life, undermines human dignity, and dehumanizes our society. While this is unfortunate news for couples who cannot have children on their own, we must realize that preservation of human dignity is of paramount importance; adoption is a better way for such couples to fulfill their laudable desire to raise children.
For more details on legal and ethical matters, visit “5 Facts about Altruistic Surrogacy.”