Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
October 1, 2001
End surrogate motherhood
Alliance MP Dr. Keith Martin believes the federal government is getting too intrusive in wanting to outlaw commercialized surrogate motherhood. "I don't think it's the place for the government to be legislating people's personal behaviour and their reproductive capacities," he said recently. "We spend far too much time sticking our noses into the personal, private lives of Canadians."
No doubt, a lot of Canadians will agree with Martin. They will see surrogacy as, first, an act of compassion for infertile couples and, second, as an unobjectionable way for women to bring home some extra cash to support their own families.
Already, there are estimated to be 50 to 60 surrogates in Canada, charging as much as $20,000 per baby and using the publicly-funded health care system here to give birth for couples from the United States and other countries.
Federal Health Minister Allan Rock has tentative plans to legislate a ban on advertising for surrogates and to prevent them from earning a profit. Rock should go further. The process should be banned completely.
In 1987, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said, "Surrogate motherhood represents an objective failure to meet the obligations of maternal love, of conjugal fidelity and of responsible motherhood; it offends the dignity of and right of the child to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up by his own parents. . . ."
Surrogate motherhood treats the child as a thing to be created for the pleasure or self-fulfillment of the parents. It falsely assumes that parents have a right to children. But the real rights are those of the child - rights to life, to nurture and to being part of a family from the moment of conception.
We too often play fast and loose with the rights of children in this society. Not their rights to be autonomous individuals to be sure, but rather their rights to be nurtured and to be protected from the sleaze and violence that are evermore apparent in society. It is wrong to treat children as autonomous individuals before they have been properly formed, both morally and emotionally.
Surrogacy also sins against marriage by treating it as an arbitrary institution with fluid boundaries. In the Church we use terms like "conjugal fidelity" and "responsible parenthood" not to oppress people, but to protect what is most human. The home is the place where love is learned. Without the home - based on the mutual self-giving of mother and father - society is in trouble.
If in the home, people become possessions and sex is reduced from an act of tenderness to the mechanical production of children, where will society head? It will head in the direction it is already bound - where we use people and love things, instead of the reverse.
Dr. Martin says a ban on surrogacy would involve "sticking our nose into the personal, private lives of Canadians." We beg to differ. Surrogacy, as personal and private as it would seem, offends against the common good. It cheapens life and it cheapens marriage. For society to permit it is for society to write its own writ of destruction.
Health Minister Rock says the only thing wrong with surrogacy is when people make a profit off it. He too has missed the point. Yes, commercialization of surrogacy is wrong.
But he fails to apprehend the deeper evil - that procreation is a sacred process and the government has a genuine responsibility to ensure that, as often as is possible, procreation takes place within the bounds of marriage.
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