|Perhaps you have seen one of the surrogacy puff-pieces already: a woman agrees to “give the gift of life to others” who are unable (or unwilling) to bear their own child, by carrying a child formed from a (sometimes very expensive) “donated” egg that has been fertilised in vitro by the sperm of one of the intended parents. This is gestational surrogacy – the most common form of the practice today. The surface picture presented is normally entirely positive and uncritical and it is either a contribution to mindless celebrity news, or else, in the case of gay parents, the trumpeting of another victory for “LGBT+ rights”.
A glossy “happy families” portrait. Or perhaps you have read one of the more recent LGBT+ media accounts about gay men having children via surrogacy, where the word “surrogacy” is banished from the page, together with any reference to the involvement of a woman in the process somewhere. The Ministry of Alphabetical Truth seems to like creating the illusion of men not needing women in order to produce children.
Motherhood is erased, and perhaps we are to believe that it is replaced by obliging rainbow storks. Not a woman in sight. What about these “peripheral” women working behind the scenes? In gestational surrogacy, the baby will be biologically unrelated to his or her birth mother (surrogate mother). Carrying a foetus with alien genetic material can cause serious complications and difficulties. All surrogacy pregnancies are high-risk pregnancies, both to the birth mother and to the baby. In all pregnancies there is a risk that the mother could die. When surrogacy is involved, that risk is increased.
On 15 January 2020, Michelle Reaves of San Diego, California, tragically died from an amniotic embolism whilst carrying a baby as a surrogate. Studies in the medical literature indicate higher rates of pre-term birth and low birth weight babies in gestational surrogacy pregnancies, as well as higher rates of pre-eclampsia (maternal hypertension), placenta previa and maternal gestational diabetes. Surrogacy pregnancies also involve a higher rate of C-section deliveries, which constitute a greater risk to both mother and baby. This is all quite apart from the emerging evidence of a link between fertility drugs and cancer. Women are at higher risk of amniotic embolism, a condition with a frighteningly high mortality rate for both mother and child, if they experience the placental problems described above, or if they have a C-section: all risks associated with surrogacy pregnancies. The baby was, fortunately, saved; but Michelle Reaves lost her life, two young children lost their mother, and a husband lost his wife. Women risk their lives when they sign surrogacy contracts. In the UK, surrogacy for commercial payment is supposed to be illegal, and those who wish to pursue blatant commercial surrogacy, and are wealthy enough to do so, can go abroad to where it is legal – such as to California, where commercial surrogacy frequently involves six-figure sums. Surrogacy tourism.
The LGBT+ lobby thinks all this is great. Is commercial surrogacy – buying babies – so different from paying someone for their kidney, though? The sale of human organs by living donors is illegal worldwide, except for in Iran: the same country that subsidises gender-reassignment as a conversion “therapy” for LGB people and that hangs people from cranes for homosexuality. There are solid grounds for prohibiting the sale of living organs. It is an unacceptable form of instrumentalisation that creates a harvesting class among those on lower incomes, who will be sacrificing their physical integrity and jeopardising their health and life under financial duress. It will be the wealthy buying liver lobes and kidneys, and the poor selling them. Not the other way round.
As originally published in Lesbian and Gay News
by Gary Powell, CBC European Special Consultant
By Jennifer Lahl, Founder and President of The Center for Bioethics and Culture, Original Signer of the Stop Surrogacy Now Petition.
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