Third-party reproduction is a prism for violations against humanity. IVF and the sperm trade launched a wicked industry that now includes abortion, eugenics, human trafficking, and deliberate family fragmentation.
Earlier this month, news broke about an Australian couple that, after commissioning a Thai surrogate in the creation of twins, left the male twin in Thailand due to his diagnosis of Down syndrome. According to the surrogate mother, when they got the diagnosis, they wanted her to abort, but she refused, carrying the child to term and naming him Gammy. They also demanded a refund. It has furthermore been revealed that the Australian father spent several years in jail for twenty-two convictions of child sex offenses. The little girl, baby Gammy’s twin, is still in his care.
Later this fall, the UK’s Department of Health will be launching a national sperm bank to “meet demand,” using £77,000 in public funds to effectively subsidize fatherlessness. British women can reduce their child’s father to the conveniently assorted drop-down menu categories of ethnicity, eye color, hair color and education level with just the click of a mouse.
The fertility industry and now legislators are saying “Love is all that matters” and that these children should be grateful that they are so “wanted.” With high rates of infertility and delayed parenthood, almost everyone knows someone who has suffered from involuntary childlessness. While sympathy is due to those who experience this painful struggle, the popular script that veils the inherent evil of third-party reproduction is based on three grave moral errors: materialism, relativism, and consequentialism.
Materialism: “I Have the Right to a Child”
If people are really just things, it is reasonable to assume that those who want the things will take good care of them, while those who don’t want the things are more likely to abuse or neglect them.
Say there is a very lucky teenager whose parents give him a car for his sixteenth birthday. The teenager is happy about it for a while, but soon enough he neglects to maintain it and wrecks it beyond repair through carelessness and irresponsible behavior. Another teen is not as lucky when it comes to cars. There are no relatives willing or able to bestow such a gift. This person wants a car more than anything else in the world, so he saves for years and even starts an online fundraising campaign to meet the price tag of the car. He proclaims his desire for this item and promises to always and forever take care of it.
Which character do you feel is most entitled to the car and would be a better steward of such a valuable item? What if we switch the car for a child?
Desire equals good stewardship, goes the logic, because it is often true in the context of material things. And when it is not, the worst thing that we end up with is a broken, abandoned thing. But things come from factories, and people come from other people, specifically their mother and father by way of God’s generosity. Removing people from the source of their creation has severe consequences.
When the baby boomers put themselves and their children on the pill faster than they could say “birds and bees,” we inherited both the logic and the mindlessness of the pill. People invert the right not to have a child and conclude that there is also a right to have a child. The result is a marketplace for the commoditized human being. Disposable when unwanted, purchasable when desired.
Relativism: Morality Defined by Desire and Intent
We are asked to believe that no particular family structure is better than any other. In our culture, there is often not even an understanding of the principle and fact that kids do best when raised by their married biological parents.
Following Stockholm Pride week, I read an op-ed in one of Sweden’s most prominent media sources advocating the redefinition of parenthood. The article was written by a thirty-three-year-old woman and reflects a growing view:
Today it is just the one who gives birth and accounts for the sperm, who is the child’s legal mother and father. The other parent must apply for adoption. It not only reflects an ancient view of parenthood, but also creates an unsafe situation for the new family.
Children’s best interests must continue to be paramount. But why must there be a defining line of two parents? If more adults are prepared to take parental responsibility, it’s just something positive.
People are creating their own moral criteria. Five parents are better than two. Two rich dads are better than one single mom. One single mom who really wants a child is better than two biological parents accidentally getting pregnant. It is heartbreaking to hear women facing infertility justify their use of different reproductive services. Egg donors don’t matter, it’s the woman who gives birth that is the real mother. Gestational carriers don’t matter, it’s the woman who passes on her genes who is the real mother. Or more bravely, neither the egg donor nor carrier matters, it’s the woman who raises the child alone who matters. Collectively, motherhood itself is degraded.
To understand this mindset, we need to back up a little. People in their twenties and thirties witnessed the breakdown of the family firsthand. Their parents gave up on each other, opted out of marital and parental responsibilities, and left our generation hurt and confused about love. The new solution is that anybody who wants to be a parent should be allowed to be a parent. Intent conquers biology, desire triumphs over nature.
But what if donor-conceived people express their feelings, share their painful stories, and come to different conclusions? Shouldn’t their testimonies be a valuable guide? The counterargument is usually, “All children have problems growing up!” This is followed by an example of a child who grew up in a nuclear family who had issues, or somebody who grew up without a father who went on to become president. Anecdotal exceptions puncture every moral principle. There is no absolute truth, our interlocutors imply, just opinions and different perspectives.
Consequentialism: The Ends Justify the Means
Yet most people will often admit a certain gut feeling telling them that third-party reproduction is not quite right. But since the noble goals are to remedy a type of suffering and to create healthy children, they are willing to look the other way.
And if concerns do surface, the born children are often used as human shields to block any potential criticism of the practices. Indeed, this year Louisiana’s Gary Smith gave state representatives photos of his two children born via surrogacy in an effort to prove the legitimacy of the practice and legalize commercial surrogacy in Louisiana. State reps who otherwise would have voted against the bill said, how am I supposed to vote against Gary’s kids?
In 10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn’t Help, Benjamin Wiker concludes that modern Western history is full of people who have devoured humanity in an attempt to save humanity. In fact, the grander the vision and the more beautiful the goal appears, the greater the temptation is to do the most horrific things.
Marx, Hitler, and Margaret Sanger all dreamed of a world where mankind would be free from disease and social ills, but in their attempts to get there, millions suffered and died. Today, we overlook the abortive, eugenic, inhumane, and family-fragmenting effects of third-party reproduction, letting ourselves be dazzled by the images of smiling commercially conceived kids.
The utopian vision is a world in which the individual can have sex and babies with all the perks of pleasure and genetic immortality but without any risks or sacrifices. A world where individuals may defy nature itself whether limited by age, partner status, or sexual orientation, to have the perfect children of their choice.
How many more people must be sacrificed, physically and emotionally, before we understand that this utopia too is unachievable? Baby Gammy is not the first and will not be the last tragedy that results from a marketplace that buys and sells children.