By Louise Allard
A publication of Alliance for Life International, this online briefing is produced eight times yearly
Surrogate Motherhood: Is the process compatible with human dignity?
What can be done to help couples who struggle with infertility to achieve pregnancy?
I had the privilege of representing the World Organization of the Ovulation Method Billings also known as WOOMB International at the 59th UN Commission on the Status of Women held in New York in March 2015.
WOOMB International co-sponsored a side event along with the Holy See, a Permanent Observer Mission at the UN, and the Centre for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM). Our event was entitled: Defending Human Dignity in Reproductive Health. It was well attended, a full house. Archbishop Auza, the Holy See representative, defined human dignity as the “intrinsic worth of a person”. It is built-in, not given by any State, or attained because of our achievements or birth heritage. It is present from conception, no matter if we were wanted or not, handicapped or especially endowed, rich or poor. He said these are the externals surrounding us. This is not where our human dignity comes from. He went on to describe the Christian understanding of where this dignity comes from. It comes from our Creator God who made us in His likeness and to whom we are in relationship with. He gives us our dignity, never to be taken away. Although we will see that our human dignity can be disrespected, offended, and dismissed.
Assisted-reproduction technologies can chip at our dignity as persons, especially those caught in its web, trying to “build their families” as speaker Jennifer Lahl documented in her documentary: Breeders, a Subclass of Women? Jennifer is a pediatric nurse and the founder of the Center for Bioethics and Culture. During her presentation, we became acquainted with women who agreed to bear a child or even twins to help a couple achieve their dream of a family. They shared their experiences with us. It is a process that can go well at times or be fraught with heartaches, abandonment, health and legal problems. Surrogacy is only one step in this process of making babies using artificial means: buying eggs here, getting a sperm donor there, and then renting a womb. Money in significant amounts is exchanged: thousands of dollars, making the child like a commodity to be bought or sold. Here in the US the money exchanged is twenty to thirty thousand dollars to the surrogate mother. In the developing world, it looks more like exploitation. After the presentation, the attendants were invited to come to the podium and meet the panelists for questions. A young lady from Nigeria informed me that surrogate motherhood was a common practice there and that young ladies were offered $15 to bear a child. This is a totally unregulated industry. While at the event, I met with the Nigeria Delegate to the UN. She confirmed that surrogacy is a problem in Nigeria. She invited me to go to Nigeria to teach fertility awareness and how to protect one’s fertility. She was made aware of Alliance for Life International and our work.
Some doctors are trying to help couples achieve pregnancy the whole fashion way: by finding out what is wrong and by treating the infertility issues instead of going to in vitro fertilization or IVF with its unethical process and all its attendant difficulties. Dr. Mary Martin is an Ob/Gyn. She discussed common causes of infertility and their treatment. Many couples become happy parents in a short time.
Here is the link to the archive video, a UN Webcast: