Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Surrogate parenthood = exploitation of desperate women

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Mar 27, 2015

Elle (“The Body”) Macpherson is expecting a baby, the tabloids tell us. The supermodel, who is currently married to a billionaire, is reportedly ready to expand her family.

But there’s a problem. Elle Macpherson is now 51 years old: beyond normal child-bearing age.

Ah, but with the help of modern medical technology—and plenty of money—such problems can readily be overcome. We’re told that Elle had some of her eggs frozen, years ago, so now she only needs a clinic to fertilize eggs with her husband’s sperm, a surrogate mother to carry her baby to term, and—did I mention?—lots of money to pay the bills.

Leave aside the inherent ugliness of the procedure by which a child is conceived in the sterile surroundings of a laboratory, rather than in a loving embrace. Let’s focus for now on what happens next: the surrogate pregnancy.

Elle Macpherson is rich, so she can afford a surrogate. Her fabulous figure won’t be distended; she won’t go through the morning sickness and the cramps and the sleepless nights and the anguish and danger of childbirth. Someone else will go through all that. And that woman, we can safely assume, is not rich.

Why would any woman voluntarily go through the rigors of someone else’s pregnancy, knowing that she could not expect the compensation of a child? Because she expected some other sort of compensation, obviously. When a woman rents out her body for the night we call it prostitution. When she rents it out for nine months, we call it surrogacy, and the tabloids treat the subject with the same blithe spirit that they use in telling us what celebrities wore to the latest garden party.

But then again, for the jet set this now is a topic that can be discussed with a blithe spirit. It’s so simple: Write a big check, bring home a healthy baby.

Not so for the surrogate mother. She is woman in need. She is willing to put her own life on hold, and put her health at risk, because she sees few other choices. I know nothing about the women who might be chosen as surrogates for Elle Macpherson. But I do know that as a rule, surrogate parenthood requires three things: money, doctors, and desperate women.

To accept surrogacy, then, means to accept the exploitation of desperate women. That’s something to bear in mind as we hear the ever-growing chorus of demands—by same-sex couples, older couples, and singles—for vindication of their “right” to have children.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: bruno.cicconi7491 - Mar. 27, 2015 4:40 PM ET USA

    Yes, the surrogate mother is one exploited person. But the child, again the child, that most disregarded one, how would such child feel and even understand him/herself existentially?

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Mar. 27, 2015 11:50 AM ET USA

    You are so right, Mr. Lawler. One reason I do not support the Personhood USA movement is that they do not object to in vitro fertilization, and therefore are just as bad as abortion providers. Surrogacy is another exploitation of two vulnerable people, the surrogate mother and the child.