in Europe, however, the Social Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary
Assembly of the Council of Europe voted against the practice of all
forms of surrogacy—commercial or altruistic, gestational or
“traditional”—rejecting a draft report on human rights and ethical issues related to surrogacy that called for regulation of the practice.
European Parliament has already condemned the practice of surrogacy, so
this majority vote by the Council of Europe, which represents 47 Member
States, is additional, welcome news.
is the correct position to take on the matter of surrogacy: not to
regulate, which tacitly condones the practice, but to prohibit it
what about here in the U.S., known throughout the world as the Wild
Wild West of reproduction? My state of California is a leader in the
global reproductive trade of eggs, sperm, wombs for hire, and babies.
For example, Elton John and his partner David Furnish came to California
twice to partake of our reproductive “services.” They bought eggs from
women, and they hired surrogate mothers who gestated babies for them to
take back to the United Kingdom.
in America, our lawmakers, our media, and our public citizens seem
woefully unaware of the billions of dollars a year industry that has
cropped up with almost no regulation. It literally is a business
profiting from the buying and selling of reproductive bodies and the
manufacturing of children who through contracts are sold to “intended
undermines the dignity of women, the children born via this method, our
bodies and their procreative capacities. Treating women as paid or
robs women of their inherent dignity and treats children as commodities
to be bought, sold, and paid for. As one child conceived through the
practice says in our film Breeders and in a separate interview I conducted with her last year, she is a product.
that are not present in an otherwise natural pregnancy. These high-tech
assisted reproductive technologies (ART) are not only risky to the
women but also the children born through ART/surrogacy. Surrogate mothers suffer higher rates
of preeclampsia, maternal hypertension, and gestational diabetes, and
the children suffer with higher rates of preterm birth. Often there are
also all the complications of a multiple pregnancy as surrogate
mothers frequently carry twins, triplets, or more—because these
technologies are very expensive and have a high failure rate.
conference in London where one same-sex couple from Paris told me they
had to use three egg donors and two surrogate mothers to finally have
success with twins who will be born this year in Canada. They explained
that they were already well “over our budget,” but happily awaiting the
birth of the babies in Canada to take back to France, where all
surrogacy is prohibited.
intentionally and without concern breaks important maternal-child
bonds. As a pediatric nurse, I know how important and good bonding is to
both mother and child. Our wombs are not arbitrary locations.
Connections between mother and child begin in utero. One surrogate
mother I spoke with in London said, “I just think of myself as the
pre-birth babysitter.” The psalmist reminds us that we were “ knit
together in our mother’s womb.” Surrogacy intentionally breaks this bond
and the lifelong connection that begins well before birth.
is exploitative and class based. Who buys and who sells? The wealthy
buy and the low income and poor sell. Female college students are
targeted and marketed to in order to sell their eggs. Low-income
military wives are heavily marketed to and recruited to serve as paid
broad social justice movement across the European continent is
spreading to other places. India, Mexico, and Thailand have closed their
borders to the international exploitation of their poor women and the
trafficking of babies back to countries like France, Italy, and Germany.
as these borders close and Europe positions themselves to prohibit and
abolish surrogacy, it will become open season on women in the U.S.,
Canada, and other countries with permissive, relaxed surrogacy policies.
America will increasingly be a destination for paying women to carry
Council of Europe should be widely commended for its action. I remain
hopeful that political and religious leaders, the media, and even
individual citizens in America will soon get their heads out of the sand
on this issue. Far too much is at stake for us not to.