Commenting on the recently announced birth of a child to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., called for a serious discussion of the dangers of surrogacy.
Cooper had his son by an unnamed surrogate. In his announcement of the birth, the son of heiress Gloria Vanderbilt said he was “eternally grateful to a remarkable surrogate who carried Wyatt, watched over him lovingly, tenderly and gave birth to him.”
“It’s likely this woman who ‘lovingly’ carried Wyatt will have no future contact with him. That’s the way surrogacy works. A woman, often one who’s disadvantaged, is paid to carry a child to term. After birth, she is contractually obligated to surrender the child to the individual or couple who paid for him. Often the rich and powerful use the process to exploit women who are neither.”
Author Joyce Carol Oates faced backlash from an angry Twitter mob for saying,
“Coverage of this good news focuses so exclusively on Anderson Cooper, you’d think that somehow dear Anderson was both father & mother. (how strange for the mother who’d been pregnant for 9 months, delivered a baby, presented Anderson w/ the baby & is now–gone.)”
Morse stated in no uncertain terms,
“I agree with Joyce Carol Oates. This is female erasure. Where is the Feminist Establishment?”
Among the many problems connected with surrogacy, Morse noted,
“If the doctor implants multiple eggs, hoping some of them will survive, the surrogate is sometimes contractually required to do ‘selective abortion’ on some of the babies. And what happens to the extra embryos that are created but not implanted? Some are frozen indefinitely, destroyed immediately or donated for research. There are no good alternatives here.”
Morse went on to say that the procedure objectifies women.
“The gestational mother’s womb is in effect rented. Following birth, she is legally deprived of the child she carried for as long as nine months. If she changes her mind at the end of the process – well, too bad. The use of her body was paid for. She has no rights to the child, even if she becomes emotionally attached to him or her.”
There are also medical risks involved, Morse explained.
“Babies conceived through in-vitro fertilization are at increased risk of premature birth, low birth weight, cerebral palsy and other problems. In some cases, those who contracted for the child, abandon him, leaving him with the surrogate, when he didn’t meet their expectations.”
These are just a few of the problems involved with surrogacy.
“Introducing the profit motive into baby-making – which should be about love – has created a $30-billion business worldwide that’s largely unregulated,” Morse said.
See the Ruth Institute pamphlet, “Children and Donor Conception and Assisted Reproduction.”
[Photo by Anna Pritchard