“One egg, one embryo, one adult-normality. . . . From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo, and every embryo into a full-sized adult. Making ninety-six human beings grow where only one grew before. Progress.” Aldous Huxley, Brave New World.
We’ve all heard the wonderful stories. Married couples who were unable to conceive become parents. A generous woman endures the discomforts of pregnancy to give them the ultimate gift. And then we imagine–a happily ever after ending.
And for some, it is a dream come true. Life as they had imagined it would be. It just began a different way.
But that’s not what surrogacy means for many children. Nothing like happily ever after.
The most recent edition of Citizen magazine reports: “The almost complete lack of regulation . . . means children born through surrogacy don’t receive the same protections that adopted children do, including criminal background checks and home studies for prospective parents. . . . Surrogacy is an easy way for predators to create children.”*
And such was the tragic beginning for infant twin girls born to an Australian couple. The father had urged his wife to abort a pregnancy early in their marriage. He was not interested in having children. He became interested after he began to assault his young nieces.
His own babies were 27 days old when he began to violate them. Their abuse lasted seven months. His collection of 13,000 images of child pornography included 300 photos of his own daughters.
There are other horror stories too.
Much of the world is waking up to this abuse. Even though the surrogacy industry is lucrative–$520 million a year in India alone–nations are moving to eradicate it or at least prohibit it to foreigners. With many countries limiting surrogacy, people are looking for surrogate mothers within the United States–where restrictions are few and protections fewer yet.
Surrogacy exploits poor women who are sometimes coerced into participating in the process and may be left with heartache or medical problems. It exploits children, especially since anyone can become a surrogate parent. Even pedophiles.
And while children “can be abused in any setting . . . they are not equally likely to be abused in every setting. By an order of magnitude they are least likely to be abused when living with their two married, biological parents.”
Even when it’s legal, surrogacy is legally messy.
A surrogate mother in California recently sued the “parents” of the triplets she was carrying. The parents wanted her to selectively abort one of the babies. She wanted to adopt the third child herself. But she signed a contract that allows the parents to decide.
Another woman moved to Michigan to give birth to a baby girl whose “parents” wanted to abort her because of her disabilities.
Legalization and regulation would seem to hold only more of such situations.
Medical progress is amazing. But progress isn’t always a step forward. In Huxley’s Brave New World, children were mass produced commodities who filled slots in society. No one loved them. They did not love. They existed only to be used by society and each other.
We haven’t gone as far as Huxley’s world yet. Neither have we drawn a line on when medical progress is human regression.
Perhaps it’s not too late to draw a line. If India and Thailand can stop injustice, so can the rest of us.
*Daniel Weiss. “Open Season: Global surrogacy markets are shutting down, putting American women at risk.” Citizen. Focus on the Family. June/July 2016.