As a paid consultant for the Center for Bioethics and Culture, I have become informed about issues to which I might otherwise have paid scant attention. This is particularly true with regard to the increasingly dark side of the fertility industry, about which the CBC has been doing splendidly illuminative work. It has really opened my eyes.
There is no polite way to put it: The fertility industry dehumanizes women who supply eggs for pay or rent their uteri. For example, the term “surrogate mother” has been changed to “gestational carrier.” Why not just say brood mare?
The CBC’s Jennifer Lahl and her CBC colleague, Christopher White, have a great piece on the dark side of surrogacy in today’s NRO. In one section, they discuss the objections from the fertility industry to a Louisiana bill that would bring meaningful regulations to the field. From, “Why Gestational Surrogacy is Wrong:”
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART) issued a joint statement opposing the amended bill as it came to the House floor, contending that it “contains a number of provisions that make clear the process of collaborative assisted reproduction is either misunderstood or the supporters of this bill are biased against certain family models.”
The amended bill, which added provisions that removed financial incentives for surrogacy, gave sole medical decision-making authority to the gestational mother. Protest such as that expressed by ASRM and SART is witnessed when any state seeks to regulate the practice and further demonstrates the unwillingness of the fertility industry to acknowledge the problems associated with the practice — medical, psychological, and ethical risks and a lack of protection for women and children alike.
And here comes the dehumanizing part:
In their statement against the bill, ASRM and SART opposed use of the word “mother” to refer to surrogates; their preferred term was the dehumanizing term “carrier.” The introduction of “mother” was one of the most important changes to the bill, as it is important that surrogacy laws recognize the humanity of both the woman and the child, who in pro-surrogacy-industry bills is often treated as a product in a commercial transaction.
Every time I write about this issue, I hear from angry readers telling me that I am terribly insensitive to their pain, and that they would do “anything” to have a baby.
I am not insensitive, but the willingness to do “anything” is precisely the problem. And the industry is all too happy to profit off their pain–distorting procreation and creating increasingly unstable “family models” as they go along.
Here’s my bottom line: It is high time we understand that But I want a baby! doesn’t justify “anything,” because that really means “everything.”