Ethical Case For Abolishing All Forms Of Surrogacy

Catherine Lynch

All surrogacy is cruel to human infants because even so-called “altruistic surrogacy” demands the removal of the neonate from her or his gestational mother when every aspect, every cell, every desire of that neonate, is geared toward being on the body of the gestational mother, to suckle and seek comfort and safety.

As an adoptee, I was removed at birth from my gestational mother, her breasts bound for three days in another room while I screamed for her, and my hospital records record my growing distress. Adoptees around the world testify to their battles with depression and rage, difficulties in trusting and attachment, and a profound sense of loss and grief caused by the loss of their mothers at birth. Scientific studies prove that maternal-neonate separation in the crucial months after birth disturbs the baby’s heart rate and sleep and other biological systems, predisposing the child to difficulties later in life which can include relationship and emotional difficulties, mental disorders and illnesses. In taking a child-centered view of surrogacy, we must take into account what we know of the trauma and confusion of separation from the natural family, especially from the birth mother, experienced by adoptees.

The argument that surrogacy can be ethical, as long as it is not commercial and is done “altruistically” for a relative or friend, does not hold up under inquiry. Kajsa Ekis Ekman in Being and Being Bought: Prostitution, Surrogacy and the Split Self points out that “if the procedure is legalised a woman will bear a child as laid out in a contract—the risk that a black market will develop increases… Just as trafficking is a consequence of prostitution, commercial and altruistic surrogacy are different levels on the same scale.” In Australia, Ekman’s claim has been borne out. We are the largest consumers of overseas surrogacy despite altruistic surrogacy remaining legal in Australia. Americans and Britons are also dominant among foreign buyers in India despite commercial surrogacy being legal in their own countries or states.

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