I had a conversation with a friend last week. She found surrogacy unobjectionable in the case of a sister offering to carry a baby for her sister. She opposes it for hire. She said she would certainly do it, “I would just be an oven.”

She wouldn’t sell her eggs or advise her daughter to sell hers for even $25,000.00.

Possible rejoinders to those ambivalent toward or supportive of surrogacy:

People are not ovens. Babies are not cakes.

Gestational mothers are now thought to contribute a small amount of genetic endowment.  If this is proven, the baby will feel related to the gestational mother and the mother to the child. They would both have a claim on the other, thus sharing and diluting the links of family tree. Clarity is lost.

The gestational mother could back out, determining to keep the baby. This would open a legal battle and sever family love of friendship. This tenuous relationship could go sour and much later a claim could be made for visitation rights, affectional claims, tearing a child from its routines into a sordid fight, in which he or she was a pawn.

The Wall Street Journal published a large advertising section Feb 6, 2010. It dealt with the gamut of IVF and technological powers of the medical field to intervene in conception and childbearing. Surrogacy advocates claim that with sufficient screening of surrogates, problems never arise. First, test the “never” claim by examining the data. Second, this is no moral justification for the program. Sufficient screening could find people willing to do all manner of dubious things.

Does or should the donor mother get to dictate food, drink, smoking and drugs?

Does the donor mother want to talk to the baby in the womb, to sing, to read to it? The “oven” would have to comply or deny or find an arbitrator to adjudicate.

The sperm portion of that fetus would be from another man, a subtle or not so subtle violation of the woman’s body. Did she “consent” to that implantation in the normal way consent is given and taken? Hardly. It’s hard to beat conjugal sex for clarity on this issue.

The sperm father may assert visitation rights over the “oven”. Fathers like to touch the skin of the mother, feel the kick. A homosexual father could thus intrude into the gestation. How does that settle? He may want to dictate food, drink, choice of music, be around various hours of the day and night.

IVF deprives the child of an origin in a self-abandoning sexual act. He or she arose in a self-conscious, willful manufacturing event.

The child has conflicting allegiances, partly to the donor mother and partly to the gestational mother who suffered nausea, months of discomfort, stretch marks, a weight loss regime after birth, post partum blues, risk and the trauma of delivery. It is not natural to allow these things only to immediately relinquish the subject of so much investment, the baby.

For a child, that’s a serious debt to owe a woman. But you are supposed to feel nothing toward her. If that woman feels nothing toward the child, won’t the child consider that odd and feel rejection, rejection by someone who naturally should feel a bond?


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