Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

The worst arguments for surrogate motherhood

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jan 12, 2024

In his annual ‘State of the World’ address last week, Pope Francis touched a nerve when he denounced the “deplorable” practice of surrogate motherhood. His two sentences on that topic, in a speech that ran to over 4,700 words, prompted more headlines than his far more extensive treatment of war and peace, weapons and disarmament.

Surrogacy is, after all, a growing— and highly profitable— business. Naturally the advocates of the process snapped back at the papal rebuke. Their pleas for sympathy called attention to married couples who are sadly unable to have children, rather than to the homosexual couples who want to mimic the natural family. And the supporters of surrogacy said very little about the poor women who are enticed to rent out their wombs for cash payments.

But the most remarkable arguments against the Pope’s message were found in a People story in which one advocate of surrogacy claimed that a ban on the transactions “could be dangerous.” She explained that if “ethical” surrogacy were not allowed, some people who want a child would still “seek to pursue it that could potentially be illegal and less safe.”

Well, yes, it could potentially be illegal if there were a law against it; that’s true enough. But how would it be less safe? Safe for whom?

And just by the way, I wonder where that surrogacy advocate stands on gun-control laws, since when the sale of fireams is illegal, some people will acquire them by “less safe” means.

Another advocate weighs in next in the People story:

Among the pope’s concerns is the "commercialization” of pregnancy, but the idea of having a contract, Kimbrough says, is meant “to protect the parents, the surrogate and eventually the baby."

Yes, a commercial contract is meant to protect the (financial, material) interests of the parties involved. That doesn’t answer the Pope’s argument that it is an offense against human dignity to make a human being the object of a commercial contract.

And again, whose interests are protected by that contract? Those of the couple acquiring the child, certainly. Those of the woman who bears the child, possibly (although the lawyers are probably representing the adoptive parents, not the surrogate). But how does the contract protect the baby?

Oh, right; I get it. And now I wonder where that surrogacy advocate stands on legal abortion.

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: feedback - Jan. 12, 2024 8:56 AM ET USA

    Spot on analysis! I'm pleasantly surprised that Francis finally said something against the culture of death, and I hope he doesn't backpedal. He's always been a darling of the press and never criticized like this before.