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Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Danger: The Many Problems with Surrogacy

Jan 14, 2018

Recent news reports coming out of Western Australia about a proposal to legalise surrogacy for homosexuals has again brought to the public attention this contentious issue. These various new technologies are certainly opening up a brave new world which has many experts worried.

As to the WA proposal, one news item says this about it:

Same-sex couples in WA could soon be able to have children using a surrogate, under a planned shake-up of laws that the State Government concedes are outdated and discriminatory. An independent review of surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology legislation could also pave the way to allow donor-conceived people to access previously withheld details about their identity.
Health Minister Roger Cook confirmed the Government had been spurred on by national laws allowing same-sex marriage and concerns WA laws could be discriminatory. Most States allow same-sex couples to access surrogacy but in WA they are ineligible, prompting some gay men to travel overseas to access commercial surrogacy.
“The review is long overdue,” Mr Cook said. “The existing Western Australian surrogacy and human reproductive technology laws are outdated, discriminatory, and are currently out of step with several Australian States.

Hmm, whenever you hear words like “outdated” and “discriminatory” you know we are facing more activism and social engineering. Homosexuals of course cannot reproduce. It is biologically impossible for two men or two women to have children.

So they must resort to things like Artificial Reproductive Technologies (such as IVF or surrogacy, etc.), or rely on heterosexuals to help make babies for them. That alone should be a major reason why we should not endorse, normalise, and glamourise this lifestyle.

A line in a new Hollywood film promoting the homosexual lifestyle is quite revealing here. One character upset with the heterosexual paradigm actually says this: “Why is straight the default?” Um, maybe it has something to do with the basic fact that only straights can reproduce, and that until just recently it has been the only way the human race could continue to survive.

But leaving aside the controversial issue of surrogacy for homosexual couples, one can simply warn about surrogacy in general, even for heterosexual couples. There are many problems and dangers associated with it, but we seldom hear about this.

As part of my trilogy of books on bioethics, my third and final volume will be all about IVF and surrogacy. If you want to know in great detail why such things are so problematic, you will have to wait until the book is released. But in the meantime, let me simply offer each main section title, along with the first paragraph of it.

What follows then is what will be found in The Challenge of IVF and Surrogacy with extensive documentation and references:

Introduction

Surrogacy is another form of assisted reproduction which is increasingly being utilised by anxious, if not desperate couples seeking to start a family. It is a bioethical issue which of course impinges upon life, but as we will see, on death as well. As such it needs to be carefully assessed. Like many other new means of assisted reproductive technologies (ART), it is claimed to help women, assist couples, and be a great social good. But a closer look at surrogacy reveals that there are certainly some darker sides to the whole practice, and caution must certainly be taken in this area.

Families at Risk

When we go down the road of brave new families and the new biotechnologies, the whole notion of what is a family is raised, as is our understanding of parenthood and the parent-child relationship. All this gets thrown into the air, and confusion starts replacing certainty when it comes to family structure. As family commentator Maggie Gallagher has put it, “What is at stake in this debate is our fundamental conception of the family and the most primal personal right – the right to one’s own children.”

Legal Nightmares

Also, there are various legal complications that can arise when a woman decides she doesn’t want to relinquish the baby. Numerous examples abound, but the Baby M case in America in the 1980s is a case in point. The baby in question was removed by the police from the natural mother, Mary Beth Whitehead’s breast and handed over to Elizabeth Stern whose only claim was to want a child of her own. Mary Beth was allowed to visit Baby M for two hours twice a week. At first, Baby M, smelling the mother’s milk, nuzzled at Mary Beth’s neck, but the court-appointed chaperone wouldn’t let Baby M nurse, lest that create a mother-child bond!

The Wellbeing of Children

While adults may be the winner in surrogacy arrangements, what about the children so conceived? How will they fare? I have already touched on this briefly, but more can be said. The simple fact that such children may have at least three “parents” involved in their creation may well raise serious concerns for them later down the track. Questions of identity must arise, as in other cases of assisted reproductive technologies. “Where did I come from?” “Who am I?” “What are my roots?” These and other questions arise when children are manufactured instead of born through the union of a mother and a father.

Surrogacy and Adoption

But, it might be objected, what about adoption? Is this not similar? Indeed, it might appear that the arguments against surrogacy can be equally used against adoption. However, there are a number of major differences between the two. A main difference involves the children themselves. As one relinquishing mother put it, “In adoption, a family sought a child in need of a family. In surrogacy, you are creating children for adults’ needs.”

Surrogacy and Baby Selling

There are basically two main types of surrogacy: altruistic and commercial. The former is meant to occur without any financial transaction taking place, while the latter involves money. But such a distinction does not always work – at least not the enforcement of the latter. For example, in Victoria there is a law against the paying of fees for adoption. The Adoption Act 1984 specifically prohibits the giving or receiving of any fees. Yet with the dawn of the Internet all that is coming unstuck.

Commercial Surrogacy

What has just been said above should convince any sensible person to never countenance surrogacy, and certainly not surrogacy involving financial transactions. Yet incredibly that is still being argued for by many leaders and politicians. This is especially bizarre given how we are now taking so seriously similar forms of human trade. For example, many parts of the world are finally waking up to the great evils of human trafficking, and are starting to take action against it – and rightly so. This nefarious trade involves the selling of people – mainly women and children – to gratify the lusts of adults.

Other Problems

In surrogacy in particular, as in IVF technologies in general, the family group becomes a deformed freak: various combinations of blended and strange step-families emerge. One, two, three mums or more, perhaps several fathers, various unrelated siblings. And what of the hapless child? Even the wisdom of Solomon cannot prevent the child from ultimately being torn in two (or three, or four…), by the competing factions.

Not Just a Religious Issue

This entire chapter has of course made the case for concerns about surrogacy, not based on religion or various Holy Scriptures, but on other grounds. The next chapter will look at religious and theological reflections which can be brought to bear on this topic. But here I want to simply emphasise again the truth that this topic can be fully argued for or against on purely non-religious grounds. And the truth is, there are plenty of people concerned about surrogacy who are not the least bit religious.

Conclusion

As demonstrated in the information above, surrogacy is fraught with many problems and difficulties. The complications, the hurt, the exploitation, the crude for-profit considerations, and the potential for huge legal costs in lengthy court cases are all too great. It is a genuine grief when couples cannot bear their own children. But as commentator George Will has put it, “The desire for children is strong and wholesome, but life offers no guarantees, and good things can have prohibitive costs.”

In the final analysis, surrogacy is anti-family, anti-child, and anti-society. Ideally, all surrogacy arrangements, including so-called altruistic surrogacy, should be prohibited. But at the very least, perhaps the best recommendation we can offer about this practice is that of one Australian report. As the State and Territory Social Welfare and Health Ministers said in 1991, we “support legislation to give all surrogacy arrangements no legal standing”.

thewest.com.au/news/wa/wa-same-sex-couples-could-have-children-using-surrogates-under-planned-law-changes-ng-b88711588z

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10 Responses to Danger: The Many Problems with Surrogacy

  • Hi Bill, I’m not sure if you’ve already covered this in previous articles, the stats now coming in from overseas suggest that same sex unions experience disproportionately far greater levels of verbal, physical, and sexual violence than what is reported within heterosexual unions. If this is the case, and you would have greater access to these stats than I, then it’s the surrogate children introduced into these “families” that have the potential to be scarred both mentally and physically for life. Thirty odd years ago as a church field officer, many times I had to attend The Children’s Court in Melbourne where decisions were made to make babies and young children wards of the state. It was heart breaking for all concerned then, and this new “social dynamic” has the potential to make it (pardon the crudity) a hell of a lot worse. Bill, thank you again for bringing it to our attention. Blessings, Kel.

  • Thanks Kelvin. Yes I have written elsewhere about homosexual violence, including in my book Strained Relations.

  • So the lynched turned into a lynch mob, talk about hanging oneself:

    Homophobia; legislating a heteronormative lifestyle onto gays; marriage, adoption, and now child birth.

    Clearly no one is born gay, and no longer wants to be gay.

    We won.

    Happy New Year Bill.

  • Dear Bill,
    Although what I witnessed with my foster brother is not quite the same as a child born out of surrogacy, I do know that questions of identity do arise and these can cause real distress in sensitive children and adults.

    My parents fostered a little boy of seven during the war whom they always thought was an orphan. He was four years older than me but I always remember him saying he had had a sister to play with before he came to us. He also chose to call my mother Aunty because he said he could remember his own mother. My parents did their best at the time to make inquiries about a sister but nothing came of it so he was assumed to be an only child and the ‘sister’ was a perhaps a playmate.

    Many years later through his own and his wife’s efforts it turned out that he had in fact been abandoned by his widowed father when he was five or six years old. His father left him in an orphanage after his wife died of tuberculosis and my foster brother remembers him saying he would come back for him but never did. In the chaos of war it was thought his father must have been killed. In the forties it would have been difficult for a widower to look after a young child so I am not judging him but that promise and the feeling that he had a family of his own somewhere haunted my foster brother all his life.

    He managed to trace his long lost half brothers and sisters in his old age and when he found them he unburdened the torment he had suffered to me in a letter forty pages long. There were no emails then only snail mail. When he came to see me some time later he broke down and cried about his father’s broken promise and abandonment and said that’s what had hurt him most – the silence and deception. Apparently his father had married again and never told his second wife that he had had a son by his first wife.

    He died a few years ago but I felt very sorry for what he had suffered.

    Adoption and fostering is sometimes neccessary but surrogacy is creating yet more problems and it is mainly for the gratification of adults as one relinquishing mother has admitted.

  • I have come across situations where two women have decided to have a baby through Ivf where the one carrying the baby receives the egg of the other woman. I wonder what happens to the child should the relationship break down. The woman who bore the child is seen as the mother but is genetically not the mother. What a dilemma.

  • Is it not also the case that in IVF multiple eggs are fertilized and unused ones are disposed of. That’s to say fertilized eggs that are surplus to the requirements of the adults concerned are aborted. Isn’t that like roasting a chicken in the hope that it will lay cooked eggs (pardon the pun). Killing human life to be able to experience the ‘joy’ of having a family. Paradox?

  • Just to complicate things even more (imo).

    As illegitimacy is defined as “the condition before the law, or the social status, of a child whose parents were not married to each other at the time of his or her birth” a lot of surrogate/ IVF children have to be illegitimate. Certainly any “same-sex couple’s child” will be illegitimate.

    And what about candidates for Federal parliament? If you don’t know who your parents actually are how can you be sure you haven’t dual citizenship?

  • There is another issue which is just as important. If surrogacy becomes widespread then there will be the possibility that siblings or cousins may end up marrying each other because they are not aware of the roots.
    This will bring its own problems.

  • One good use of surrogacy is as a way to adopt the fertilised embryos (i.e. human beings) conceived through IVF so that they can live and not be killed. I believe there are some Christians already doing this.

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