Dear Friend of the CBC,
On Monday, I alerted you to the fact that law professor Douglas NeJaime believes that marriage equality must yield “family equality,” thanks to Justice Kennedy. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I warned that this would lead to the exploitation of women’s bodies through egg donation, and would have serious harms for children intentionally created to be severed from their biological parents.
In my final installment this week, let’s consider the surrogate mothers who will be used and who will be reduced to a subclass of women so that gay men can have children.
In his now infamous op-ed, NeJaime writes:
Marriage equality also sheds light on how to resolve conflicts over surrogacy. States that reject surrogacy and refuse to recognize the intended parents perpetuate the unequal treatment of same-sex families, allowing biological and gendered notions of parenthood to dominate.
For NeJaime, biology should simply take a back seat to the desires of adults to form their families however they wish.
In addition, his call for surrogacy as a remedy for supposed “unequal treatment” is absurd. Unequal treatment is at the very heart of the practice of surrogacy. The surrogate mother is reduced to a mere carrier or vessel for those desiring a child.
Consider, for example the title given to a bill in New Jersey that would have legalized commercial surrogacy there: The “New Jersey Gestational Carrier Act.” Gestational Carrier—what a belittling and dehumanizing term!
Surrogacy involves the exploitation of poor and vulnerable women, and the creation of a market for children. Unequal treatment, indeed!
Fortunately, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed this bill earlier this very week. For the past three years, I and my team at the Center for Bioethics and Culture have been an active part of a diverse coalition to educate both lawmakers and citizens, and to help prevent this bill from becoming law.
In his veto statement, Governor Christie noted:
This bill seeks to make gestational carrier agreements enforceable under the contract laws of this State. Once signed, this contract would legally bind a woman to carry and give birth to a child with whom she has no genetic relationship, on behalf of another party. This legal arrangement establishes a contractual relationship between the intended parent and the gestational surrogate, with the subject of the contract the yet to be born child.
As you can imagine, advocates for “family equality” were quick to seize this occasion to demand access to surrogacy.
Andrea Bowen, Executive Director for Garden State Equality, issued a press release claiming, “This veto is a terrible outcome for families across New Jersey who need gestational surrogacy agreements to strengthen their families.”
Make no mistake. They are building a war chest of funds to continue to push for the exploitation of women through surrogacy.
We at the Center for Bioethics and Culture are committed to continuing the fight against these false “needs” that organizations like Garden State Equality are so intent on inventing and pushing forward. So far, we’ve been successful.
We have worked to secure back-to-back vetoes in 2013 and 2014 from Louisiana Governor Jindal to prevent surrogacy in that state. We’ve worked to stop surrogacy legislation in Minnesota in 2013 and 2014. And now we’re seeing this second veto of a surrogacy bill in New Jersey.
That’s the good news. But the bad news is that this battle is just beginning and the stakes have never been higher.
Through documentaries like our 2014 film, Breeders: A Subclass of Women?, we have become the leading voice for the women exploited through surrogacy and for the children conceived through this practice.
I need your help to continue to lead the charge.
We must meet the challenge posed by the war chest the other side is building. We can only do that together.
How can you help? Challenges like this are met through gifts both big and small. We need gifts of $250, $500, $1,000, $5,000, and more.
But we need $5, $10, and $20 gifts too.
Within just a few short hours of me typing these words, at least 10,000 people will read them in this email or through facebook, twitter, or on our website. If each of them gave just $10, that would be $100,000 to go directly to fighting all of the things I’ve outlined for you this week: exploiting women as breeders through surrogacy, trading on the female body through egg donation, and severing children from their biological parents through the use of anonymous sperm and eggs.
And some of you who are reading these words are able to give significantly more that $10.
Yes, I am giving you the hard sell here. I don’t often write in such blunt terms. But the need has never been more pressing. The stakes have never been higher.
Please consider carefully how much you might be able to give today.
Thank you for partnering with us.
PS: Have you seen the Stop Surrogacy Now campaign? It is another of the many efforts we’re participating in to oppose the abuses I’ve been writing to you about all week.
The Center for Bioethics and Culture is a non-profit 501(c)(3) public benefit educational organization. All gifts are tax-deductible.
- Jennifer Lahl is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.