Last updated on September 20th, 2021 at 08:29 am
The International Organization for the Family (IOF), the parent of ifamnews.com, has just joined with over thirty pro-family organizations to form an international Coalition Against Surrogacy and to sign a petition to the United Nations calling for an end to the practice of commercial surrogacy. “We are proud to both join this coalition and sign this petition,” declared IOF President Brian Brown, “as both are committing to eradicating a practice that commodifies childbearing, devalues human dignity, and all too often takes advantage of poor women from developing countries.”
What is commercial surrogacy? In brief, it is paying a ‘surrogate’ woman to gestate and bear the child of another ‘commissioning’ couple or individual, who will then take the child from the surrogate at birth. The implanted fertilized egg can be composed of the egg and sperm of the commissioning couple, of the surrogate mother herself and the commissioning ‘father’, or any other combination. No matter who ends up contributing genetic material, the salient fact of commercial surrogacy is that post birth, the person or persons commissioning the child will own the child.
Commercial surrogacy is truly big business, and it is getting much bigger every year. It is estimated that the international surrogacy market, which earned around $4 billion in 2020, will grow to over $30 billion a year by 2027. Significantly, while a woman who serves as surrogate can earn on average between $5,000 to $25,000 for each birth, the businesses and individuals involved in organizing the surrogacy can earn from 5 to over 40 times more than that amount. As a result of this profit potential, serious abuses–especially of poor women–are becoming the norm. Ominously in some poor countries, human traffickers are using the same networks used for sex trafficking to traffic in surrogate mothers. Indeed, the abuse of their native women to further the surrogate needs of foreigners has led several countries to ban commercial surrogacy involving non-natives. In the end, commercial surrogacy all too often winds up being a way for wealthy couples, especially homosexual couples, from North America and Western Europe to take advantage of destitute women in Asia and Eastern Europe.
Significantly, commercial surrogacy rarely takes into account the interests of children brought about by the process. Indeed, there have been cases of commissioning couples refusing to take babies born with deformities, pressuring surrogates to have abortions if abnormalities are suspected, and changing their minds about wanting a child after surrogacy has commenced. And even if a surrogacy does not have any “problems,” at a minimum a child is being ripped away from the only mother it has known and bonded with over 9 months of pregnancy. (See my article “Time to ban surrogacy” for a more in-depth analysis of commercial surrogacy.)
In order to stop the commodification of childbearing and the abuse of women and children Ordo Iuris, a leading European pro-family and human rights organization, has organized the international Coalition Against Surrogacy and created a petition to the United Nations to ban commercial surrogacy. The petition, signed by the coalition members and addressed to the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, urges the adoption of an optional protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that would: 1) ban commercial surrogacy; 2) ban organizations and intermediaries from engaging in commercial surrogacy; and 3) ban advertising regarding commercial surrogacy. As the petition declares:
“The 21st century has brought great development to nations of the world, particularly the development of the global market, where almost every commodity of the world is present. However, we cannot let human life be treated like a commodity. And children intended for the surrogacy market, as well as their mothers who, forced by their financial situation, agree to give birth to children to be sold in the future, usually abroad, are treated like a commodity. We object to the conversion of human life into money and the use of the misery of the poor part of the world’s society by the rich and the powerful of this world.”
The petition then cites some of the abuses of children caused by commercial surrogacy:
“Media reports from the last years show that surrogacy is a gradual and dangerous process that has no respect for human life. Child fairs and practices of abandoning sick newborn babies and taking children away from their mothers against their will continue as a result of [the] neglects of the international community and we must put an end to them.”
Importantly, the petition notes how commercial surrogacy specifically violates Article 21 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which states that “the system of adoption [in Member States] shall ensure that the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration” and requires signatories to ensure that an international adoption placement “does not result in improper financial gain for those involved in it.” “Commercial surrogacy,” the petition boldly declares, “is in opposition to the above-mentioned provisions of the Convention. Therefore, we demand their reinforcement with an additional Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which will oblige you to undertake concrete action against commercial surrogacy practices.”
Said IOF President Brian Brown, “We are excited to be working with leading pro-family organizations from around the world to fight the degrading and abusive practice of commercial surrogacy. We hope the United Nations will seriously consider our petition. The welfare of thousands of women and children hangs in the balance.”
Importantly, private individuals and other organizations are invited to sign the petition and join the International Coalition Against Surrogacy. For more information, please visit www.stopsurrogacy.org.