Infertility, sterile, barren, no couple likes to hear these words when faced with the onset of trying to conceive a newborn child. Despite advancements in modern fertility drugs and the medical world as a whole, these words, as heartbreaking to hear as they are to say to a hopeful couple, still plague prospective mothers throughout the world. While many options are available to increase fertility, hormone production, or even conceive the embryo needed to achieve the wonderful state of pregnancy; to many couples these methods remain controversial. Surrogate parenting is one of these methods, and has raised several questions of ethical, social, and psychological issues.
Being a surrogate mother is the means of one woman, referred to as the surrogate, carrying another woman’s child, who is unable to do so due to medical or other reasons, within her for the entire pregnancy term till birth. After this time the child is given to the biological parents. Currently there are two types of surrogate parenthood. The more common approach where “… the surrogate mother and the father are the ‘natural’ parents; the fertilized egg is implanted in a woman’s womb with the understanding that she will bear the child…” (Ford 2011) after which she gives it back to the donor, or biological parents. The other methodology uses the father’s sperm and the surrogate mother’s egg.
According to Ford (2011), “a 2002 European study of children raised in surrogate families entirely discounted concerns of adverse consequences to a child birthed in surrogacy.” Then later states that the same study concluded that the overall parenting in those families was of a higher quality than that of normal families.
Ford goes onto to state that the main “hesitation surrounding the acceptability of surrogate parenthood reflects a complex myriad of legal, personal, religious, ethical, and human rights concerns” (2011), meaning that despite the fact that children are never asked about their conception in school, nor bullied because of such matters, it still remains a fact that it is the parents who receive a majority of the prejudice from society.
Goldmark holds the belief that “family structures are not simply a case of moralizing; they are deeply ingrained in society at all levels”, and surrogacy is a form of farming, one in which that, much like a farmer “…considering breeding a prize bull, or thoroughbred race horse” the parents seek out the best of the best (2011). Goldmark even makes reference to the practices of the master race programs and eugenics of the Nazis in comparison. He then raises questions about if surrogate motherhood creates commercial issues.
While many places do not allow surrogate mothers to accept compensation for the service, how many “behind the scene” deals are made? Selling children is, of course, against the law all over the world. Goldmark asks, “If she is paid for delivering a child, what is the distinction between that and selling a child conceived for the purpose of selling him or her…” and goes to a slight exaggeration of selling children next to pets at the mall. (2011)
Despite the exaggerated claims of retail child shopping and the Nazi influence of attaining a master race, Goldmark does bring up a valid point. While the “…rejection of surrogate motherhood may seem cruel…” (Goldmark 2011), what about all the orphaned children?
Many people want to experience the joys of raising a child from infancy to adulthood and for some, this might be the only available method to obtain that dream. Personally, I remain unbiased on the subject because while both Ford and Goldmark have different opinions, they are just that, opinions. Both have a compelling point of view for the benefits and the drawbacks of surrogate motherhood, but in my own belief it is more of a moral and ethical issue within society. It is my belief that the decision of surrogacy and outcome rest solely on the couple wanting to conceive a child in the manner that they deem appropriate for them. Remember as Ford pointed out, children are never asked about his or her conception or even the way it happened, this lies solely on the parents.
Ford, A. (2011). Point: Surrogate parenting is a useful practice for couples who are unable to conceive a child. Points Of View: Surrogate Mothers, 2.
Goldmark, S. (2011). Counterpoint: Surrogate motherhood attacks human dignity by buying and selling children. Points Of View: Surrogate Mothers, 3.