Surrogacy does not exploit women

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Have you ever read an article, and midway through you begin to feel your blood boil because they just didn’t get it? That’s how I felt reading the article below.

The worst part is this piece was published in the Wall Street Journal.  It’s titled, “Surrogacy Gives Birth to an Unusual Alliance.”  However, the subtitle says it all: “Ethical concerns about paying for babies bridge the sacred-secular gap.”

Its writer, Christopher White, begins the article by mentioning how the states of New York, Minnesota and Washington D.C. have legislation pending to legalize commercial surrogacy.

That’s a step forward – but not in this article.

White reports, “The Catholic Church has long opposed surrogacy, whether paid or unpaid. Nowadays, with increasing pressure for the legalization of paid surrogacy, the church has found itself with an unfamiliar ally: feminists.” He presses on, “The Catholic Church and women’s rights groups are accustomed to clashing over policy matters involving contraception and abortion. But now the two camps can often be found working hand in hand when it comes to protecting both women and children from being exploited in the growing and largely unregulated fertility industry.”

Oh, really? Did I miss that e-mail announcement and invitation?

White sensationalizes his point by mentioning the unfortunate “Baby Gammy” surrogacy, which of course, is not the norm.

With a religious spin he writes, “Catholic feminist Lucetta Scaraffia took to the pages of the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romana, to describe the Baby Gammy story as evidence of the ‘throwaway culture’ that Pope Francis has decried. ‘We should not be surprised,’ she wrote, ‘if parents who have ordered a baby and rented a woman’s womb refuse it at birth if it is not healthy and perfect.’”

White goes on to mention how the laws in the U.S.A. differ in terms of paid or unpaid surrogacy.

White pushes on with the following, “Leaders of the Pro-Choice Alliance for Responsible Research, writing online in April for the reproductive-health publication RH Reality Check, urged serious consideration regarding surrogacy: ‘Having insisted so powerfully on women’s rights, how do we ensure that we are not pitting one woman’s rights and well-being against another’s?’”

Did he say women “pitted” against one another?

A grown woman, represented by legal counsel, after meeting with her agency’s representative (if she has one), a doctor and his or her staff and a trained psychologist, doesn’t know her own mind and can’t decide on her own if surrogacy is right for her and her family?

What a ridiculous argument.  If the writer bothered to look back at the landmark 1993 ruling in the Johnson v. Calvert case, heard by the California State Supreme Court, he would have found that the courts rejected that very same argument put forth by the surrogate’s attorney that she didn’t know her own mind when she signed the contract. The court held 6-1 that the surrogate mother had no parental rights to the baby.

White also said in his article, “Too often paid surrogacy appears exploitative. Women who serve as surrogates tend to be poor and are tempted by the fees even though they’re taking on a nine-month, 24-hour, seven days a week physical and emotional commitment. For $25,000—a common surrogacy fee—the arrangement comes out to less than $4 an hour.”

Again, White didn’t do his research.

Aside from the money aspect, it’s not easy being a surrogate and it takes a lot of hard work. Most women who think it is “easy money” never pass the screening or drop out when they realize how tough it is. And, most agencies that I work with do not work with surrogate’s who are poor. The money these women receive has to be the “icing” on the cake – not the entire “cake.”

White then mentions the risks of being a surrogate.

Yes, there are risks and that’s why the surrogates in my practice all have their own, separate counsel. It’s the law in California, but I also participate in contract negotiations where surrogates are in other states where it may not be the law.  And while most surrogates don’t think they need an attorney, I really don’t care — they get one.

Just when you thought you’ve read enough, White pushes on about a study which highlighted an “unsettling aspect” which cut off the natural maternal bonding of pregnancy after the surrogacy delivery.

Write reports, “A prominent June 2013 study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry found that children born through surrogacy are at great risk of adjustment difficulties and psychological problems.”  He goes on to vaguely write, “There are no long-term studies gauging how young adults conceived through surrogacy are faring, but the anecdotal evidence from such children’s countless blog posts and interviews suggest that many are wary of the very practice that allowed for their conception.”

If that’s his claim, then why didn’t White do his research, interview these adults, and document their statements?

I have 13-year old children born via surrogacy; and, I know a lot of families and children born via surrogacy. I can tell you from experience that those children do not have adjustment issues because of how they were born. That’s like saying my dad had issues being a father because he had one arm and one leg. He had issues because he had one and one leg, but that didn’t mean he didn’t know how to love a child. That was just my dad’s story of his life. Just like children have their story of how they were created and born. It’s just that: their story.

Let’s not make it any more than what it is.