Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Confused ethicists attack surrogacy laws

A Nat. Review article says:
Why Gestational Surrogacy Is Wrong
Not much distinguishes it from the buying and selling of children when the surrogacy is paid. ...

The current political landscape surrounding surrogacy indicates that as a nation we have failed to reconcile the undeniable realities of both motherhood and childbirth with our laws surrounding how these technologies enable collaborative reproduction and the building of modern families. Those who argue that this reflects merely a misunderstanding of surrogacy and a bias in favor of certain family models have yet to account for the medical and moral consequences of paying women to gestate babies for others. Until we have a serious public debate over commercial surrogacy, women and children remain exposed to exploitation at the hands of those entrusted with their protection.

— Jennifer Lahl is the president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture and producer/director of the surrogacy documentary Breeders: A Subclass of Women? Christopher White is the director of education and programs at the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a 2013–2014 Robert Novak Fellow.
Based on those job titles, I would expect some actual reasons, and not misunderstandings.

But they just argue similarity to baby-selling, and that is a very lame argument. They do not even explain why baby selling should be illegal. You may not realize it, but lots of American baby adoptions today go thru brokers who charge tens of thousands of dollars for their services. It is baby selling in disguise.

Here is the study abstract:
A major study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (June 2013) looked at 30 surrogacy families and found that surrogate children, while not suffering from psychological disorders, had elevated levels of adjustment difficulties.
Results: Although children born through reproductive donation obtained SDQ scores within the normal range, surrogacy children showed higher levels of adjustment difficulties at age 7 than children conceived by gamete donation. Mothers who had kept their child’s origins secret showed elevated levels of distress. However, maternal distress had a more negative impact on children who were aware of their origins.

Conclusions: The absence of a gestational connection to the mother may be more problematic for children than the absence of a genetic link.
I admit that I do not know the difference between "reproductive donation" and "gamete donation". A gamete is a reproductive cell. At any rate, this is a weak study based on a few questionnaires giving normal results.

The NR article explains that LGBTQIA politics is driving this:
Both New York State and the District of Columbia, where surrogacy contracts are unrecognized, are currently considering new laws that would allow women to be paid as gestational mothers. In both cases, lawmakers in same-sex relationships have sponsored the proposed legislation, which would expand the market for same-sex couples who want to have children.
My main problem with the article is that it is attacking a straw man:
In 1998, when the New York State Department of Health took up the issue of surrogacy after seeing the fallout from the Baby M case in neighboring New Jersey, its task force reported that “the members concluded that the practice could not be distinguished from the sale of children and that it placed children at significant risk of harm. They also agreed that surrogacy undermines the dignity of women, children, and human reproduction.” Nothing about the ethical or medical facts of surrogacy has changed since then — only the politics surrounding it.
The Baby M case was legally and ethically questionable, and the NJ courts made a mess of it, but that is not how it is done today. Now the gestational carrier does not use her own eggs. And several states, including California, have passed laws regulating the contracts. So yes, the ethical or medical facts of surrogacy have changed since Baby M, and this article does not address those crucial changes.

Maybe these gestational carrier laws are part of a gay plot to undermine the family. But at least that business is based on contracts to uphold the intentions of parents and other parties. The NJ Baby M court approach is to just let the family court judge award child custody based on his opinion of the BIOTCh, regardless of the contracts.

A libertarian site comments:
It is sad when the Nation Review is posting essays full of leftist bilge like, “surrogacy arrangements often take place between parties with unequal power, education, and economic status.” Once you see that don’t you have to discount anything said in such an essay?
I am inclined to agree. That type of thinking leads leftist to reject contracts, rule of law, and the necessities of modern civilization. These gestation contracts are just like other contracts.

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