Infertility, Infertility Advocacy, Surrogacy

The Attack on Surrogacy

February 13, 2014

I’m tired of reading about how surrogacy is unethical and not in the best interest of women.  I think these are lame cop-out reasons that detractors give and that some of the real reasons behind their attacks are the ridiculous personhood madness and to prevent gay couples from having children.  Regardless of why, as someone who is infertile and who needed gestational surrogacy to have children, I resent this. I resent that people are trying to take away this crucial family-building option.

I resent opponents and lawmakers using personhood to sneakily take on abortion and as a result take away my ability to treat my disease using IVF.  To take an anti-family issue and use it against my pro-family issue.  I take this personally as the personhood fight was brought to Virginia and I testified before the Senate committee against personhood.

I also resent opponents trying to ban surrogacy as a way to prevent gay couples (especially men) from having children.  I won’t comment on this issue as it’s a separate topic, but again I take offense that the ability to treat my disease would be banned as a result.  My issue is that I feel like the innocent bystander who would be a casualty of this war.  What about the infertile women and men in heterosexual marriages?

The reasons that the opponents give against surrogacy are flimsy.

Recently, a bill was introduced in Kansas that would have made surrogacy illegal.  Fortunately, it was later withdrawn by its sponsor, Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook.  “Surrogacy undermines the dignity of women, children and human reproduction,” said Jennifer Lahl, president of the California-based Center for Bioethics and Culture.

Proponents of the bill in Kansas said that it exploits women, that only poor women become surrogates.  I heartily disagree.  Women in this country can decide for themselves if they want to become a surrogate. Why take away their freedom to decide? What? Women are too stupid to decide for themselves?

Most clinics will not even move forward with surrogacy without a legal contract in place and without the surrogate and intended parents going through counseling. In Virginia, it’s even illegal to pay a surrogate; you can only reimburse her for expenses.

Supporters of the bill, such as Michael Schuttloffel, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, argued that surrogate contracts make children into a commodity. “You don’t see a lot of women who are not poor signing up to be surrogate mothers,” he said. “It seems on its face to be very exploitative.”

My surrogate carried our babies because she wanted to help an infertile couple.  It was not about money for her. She is not poor and this was not a job for her, but rather an act of love. In my opinion, one of the greatest gifts of love that you could give or receive.

I don’t deny that there are some women out there to make money.  While that situation wasn’t right for me, it works for some.  It’s a mutually beneficial agreement between two or more adults that does not exploit the surrogate.  One becomes a parent and one is paid for their trouble.  Some want to call this “renting a womb” or being a “baby breeder,” but I take offense to their attempting to turn a beautiful thing into something ugly.  I am thankful that there are people out there willing to help others who can’t conceive because a disease prevents them from doing so, for money or otherwise.

The Christian Post recently published an article as part two of a series on surrogacy, entitled “Renting a Womb (Part 2).” I was incensed after reading the first sentence in the article.

Although not specifically mentioned in the Bible, the act of surrogacy in order to produce a baby should be considered unethical, says Scott B. Rae, professor of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Biola University.

So, if it’s not mentioned in the Bible, what gives this Scott Rae such divine insight? Is he God? I am a Christian and I do not feel that surrogacy is unethical, religiously speaking or otherwise.  In fact, couldn’t we consider Jesus to have been birthed from a gestational surrogate? Yes, I think so.

He goes on to talk about the typical stuff – a marriage is considered to be a man and a woman, blah blah. Again, I say…what about me in my heterosexual marriage?  Is surrogacy unethical for me, too, even though I am in a heterosexual monogamous relationship? Even though I can’t carry a pregnancy to term? Sorry, pal, your reasoning doesn’t stand up here.

Rae goes on to say:

Gestational surrogacy is a little more complicated about “who is the mother here” because you can split biology like you never have before, meaning you can have one woman who is the genetic contributor and a different woman who carries the child to term. The question is then who is the mother? A good case could be made for both. My own preference, and I would not go to the stake for this, I think a better case could be made for the woman who gestates and gives birth to the child being the mother. She’s the one that has the real sense of bonding, connection, relationship with the child prior to the child’s birth. I particularly like this term, the surrogate has a much greater, what they call a “sweat equity” in the child that she is caring.

So, is he saying that I couldn’t possibly love my two children because they weren’t in my belly? I can assure him he is dead wrong.  I love my two babies with all my heart and carrying them has no bearing on this. By this thinking, then he’s also taking aim at adoptive parents.  He is saying they couldn’t love their children because the adoptive mothers didn’t give birth to them.  This is so wrong.  Not to mention that the bible encourages adoption as a wonderful act of love.

And sweat equity? Are you freaking kidding me jerk-face?  Yes, my surrogate had a lot of sweat equity. I don’t deny that — she was sick, uncomfortable, had back-aches, high blood pressure, headaches and had to go through child labor. But, I have some equity in this, too! Eight long years building up to this. Treatments, injections, surgeries, losses and heartache beyond compare.  Yes, my husband I and I have sweat equity in this endeavor as well. My surrogate’s sweat equity wasn’t to the children she was carrying, but rather in making my husband and I parents.  That was her goal and her labor of love.

These two babies are not the product of a lack of ethics. They are not the product of exploiting women.  They are not the result of baby breeding.  They are the product of a tremendous act of love and many prayers.

For those hiding behind surrogacy to attack other issues, shame on you.  For those outright attacking surrogacy, shame on you, too.

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  • Cory

    Very well written, Whitney.

    – Cory (it wouldn’t let me sign in)

    • Whitney Anderson

      Thanks, girl. Would love to see you sometime soon!

  • nogoodeggs

    Whomever Rae is, he clearly does not know anything about infertility, gamete donation, surrogacy or adoption. I hate when people are so ignorant on a topic, yet still speak out about it. I am so glad that you feel content with your decision and have the family you always wanted – that is the most important!

  • Kelley Wierling

    It is rather obvious that anyone attacking surrogacy has never had an issue having children or did not want them in the first place. I have too many friends who have gone through YEARS of injections, testing, and all types of invasive, painful treatments to achieve parenthood. Some are still trying. It made me realize how very lucky my husband and I have been in our own journey. The naysayers should find something more worthy to spend their time on like starving children here and abroad.

    Good for you and your lovely family.

  • Mama

    congratulations on your lovely family, and a well written article. As a mother and a surrogate, the idea of banning surrogacy for such ridiculous reasons is outrageous. In Canada we are not paid either (reimbursed expenses only) but that is not why we do it. it is look on the face of the parents when they see that first ultrasound, when they hear the heartbeat for the first time, and the red teary eyes when they hold their own baby for the first time. that’s why we do it…that’s why I will do it again.

  • Andrea Ramsay

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