Opinion

Buying a baby: The harmful objectification inherent in surrogacy and IVF

surrogacy, ivf

The “right” to have a child does not exist. Children are gifts, not possessions or commodities to be bought and sold. But the fertility and abortion industries have turned them into just that. Innocent human beings are being created and destroyed to fit the desires of adults, while being deprived of their own right to know their biological mother or father.

Children as accessories

Though thousands of children are eligible for adoption in the U.S., some adults desire a biological child so badly that they will spare no expense to create a child who is biologically related to them, even if the child is not biologically related to his or her partner/spouse. If the desire to have a biological child (rather than an adopted child) is so strong, then it should also be obvious that a child will have a strong desire to know his or her biological parents.

Fashion designer Peter Dundas and his partner Evangelo Bousis created a baby using an egg donor and surrogate. Dudas told The Times, “There is this stigma with surrogacy. People think, ‘Oh, same-sex couples — they buy a baby.’ I’ve even heard the word ‘accessory’ used and that’s unfair. You really have to put your heart and soul into it. I think everybody should be able to have a baby if they want to, but it’s not that easy.”

But as many know, the desire for a child does not ensure that someone will be a good parent. A child is a human being with rights. One of those rights is to know his or her biological mother and father.

While adoption agencies screen prospective parents, the fertility industry doesn’t. In adoption, the children (not the adults) are the clients, and any parents looking to adopt are put through a rigorous process of background checks and home visits. The child’s best interest is at the center of adoption. With the fertility industry, it’s the needs of the adults that are put first.

Bousis said, “It’s science, so you think, ‘I’m going to get the best this and the best that and nine months later I’m going to have a baby.'” Human beings are being labeled as to whether or not they fit what the client wants in a baby —the best this and the best that. But children are not cars or houses, and it is unethical to essentially shop for the children that suit adults’ needs most.

READ: Adoption, IVF, and surrogacy: What pro-lifers need to know

In the case of Bousis and his partner, both men’s sperm were used to implant two embryos so that each would have a biological child. “We wanted twins — a boy and a girl,” said Bousis. To accomplish this, they would have had to weed through embryos and possibly discard or freeze any extra boys or girls they made.

Paris Hilton made similar comments, though she was speaking not of surrogacy but of wanting to use IVF — “so I can pick twins if I like.” Again, children are not products on a shelf that adults get to pick and choose from. They are human beings who have rights — including the right to life.

Former host of “The View” Sherri Shepherd entered into a surrogacy agreement with the intention of saving her marriage to her then-husband. Halfway through the surrogate’s pregnancy, Shepherd bailed, abandoning the child she had paid to create as if he were a product to be returned to the store for a refund. Shepherd refused to assume any responsibility for the child but was eventually forced to pay child support by a court.

Women as objects

The fertility industry, and most specifically surrogacy, also treats women as commodities. Surrogates are often low-income women who rent out their wombs, and in many cases sell off their eggs (which are used to create their biological children). While surrogacy advocates claim that women become surrogates out of the goodness of their hearts, many of these women find that they are treated as a rented uterus by wealthy adults who desire a child.

After celebrity couple Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra announced they had a baby using a surrogate, author and activist Talisma Nasreen tweeted a series of anti-surrogacy remarks. She said she refuses to accept the idea that poor women acting as surrogates could be anything other than exploited. “Surrogacy is possible because there are poor women. Rich people always want the existence of poverty in the society for their own interests. If you badly need to raise a child, adopt a homeless one.” She added, “I won’t accept surrogacy until rich women become surrogate mom [sic].”

After Shepherd attempted to abandon her child, the surrogate, Jessica Bartholomew, came forward, saying, “I will never help another mother have a baby. Sherri put me and my family through so much emotionally and almost ruined me financially so I will never trust anyone to go through that again.”

Other surrogates learn the hard way that even if they think the intended parents love the baby they created, they only want a specific baby and will attempt to force her to abort if the baby does not meet their expectations and standards. They want the product they paid for. Brittneyrose Torres was carrying triplets for a couple, who decided three babies were too many and ordered her to abort one of the babies. Other women have been ordered to abort children because of a diagnosed disability. Payments in the thousands to tens of thousands of dollars are often withheld unless a surrogate agrees.

Lance Bass and Michael Turchin complained that the egg donors they used didn’t produce enough eggs, and their surrogates miscarried. “We got all the way down the path of about to retrieve their eggs,” Turchin said, describing the process of IVF and surrogacy. “Some just wouldn’t produce enough eggs, some weren’t good genetic matches.”

READ: Ukrainian women exploited as country becomes surrogacy capital of the world

When a surrogate was unwilling to carry children for them because of medical issues, she was treated as an inconvenience that stood in the way of the men getting what they wanted. “This time around, we had to start all over again from the beginning,” Turchin complained. “Not only did we need to get a new egg donor now because we found out she had early lupus, but on top of that, when we did our egg retrieval, we only had two healthy embryos. Normally, the number’s much higher. So we put both in and once she miscarried, we had to start all over from scratch again this past year.”

Yet when a surrogate successfully gave birth, she wasn’t spoken of at all. The babies were instead treated as the achievement of the men, with the birth mother and egg donor forgotten.

How the children feel

While most children created using IVF don’t survive the process, the ones that do often suffer mental and physical health complications as a result. Advocates of the fertility industry claim that all a child needs is love, but this is an excuse for adults to create the child they want while ignoring the actual rights and needs of that child. One young man who was created through traditional surrogacy explained:

Something horrible happened to us at birth. We lost our mothers. They did not die, but they might as well have been dead because we lost them in the capacity of mother, and to a tiny baby, that feels like death… That makes us feel very rejected. That leaves a hole in our hearts whether we admit to it or it manifests some other way like in depression or a fear of getting close to someone else…

Sometimes it doesn’t show up until we are in our teens or [are] young adults, and like me sometimes it shows up as a baby when I scream my head off for six weeks and they call it colic… Nothing can console us… I wanted my mother and she wasn’t there… You can’t just substitute mothers and expect us to be OK with it.

Studies have proven that being separated from a mother — biological or surrogate — at birth is a “major physiologic stressor” for the baby, which can permanently alter the child’s brain and leave her susceptible to depression, abandonment issues, and emotional problems related to attachment, bonding, and self-esteem. Yet this fact is ignored so that adults can continue to buy the babies they want and the fertility industry can profit.

Both the surrogates and the children created through IVF and surrogacy are real human beings with rights that supersede the desires of individuals and couples who desire children at all costs.

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