Right to Life NSW holds that Surrogacy is inherently wrong because …
- Epigenetic Connection – The surrogate, or birth, mother plays a very real part in determining the traits of the child. How DNA changes because of something in the environment is called “epigenetics.” The environment in the case of surrogacy, is inside the birth mother’s womb. While the genetic mother and father’s genes may be the blueprint for the baby, it is the birth mother who provides everything that baby needs to grow. The foetus uses her sugars, calcium, nitrates and fluids. In other words, she’s the biological mother.
- The Breaking of Bonds – Surrogacy breaks what is arguably one of the greatest bonds there is – between a baby and its birth mother. The biological bond the baby makes with the birth mother is immediately severed once he or she is born. We believe this has lasting psychological impacts on the child, who is really the forgotten party at the start of any surrogacy agreement.
- The Medical/ Scientific Fallout – The process of surrogacy also involves the process of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF). IVF involves creating multiple embryos by using the intending mother’s eggs and a man’s sperm. But usually, only one or two of those newly created embryos is placed in the surrogate mother’s uterus. That leaves many more unused embryos. All too often these embryos are left to die, or be destroyed, or given to medical research. We believe life begins at conception, and against killing all these embryos who don’t get used.
- The Societal Fallout – The focus at the start of any surrogacy agreement is the person or persons who want to have a baby. Not on the child who will be born. In this case, the baby is really treated as a “commodity” that will come out of a surrogacy agreement. At one point do we as society place the needs of adults over the need of a vulnerable child?
- Whose right is it anyway to ‘have’ a child? – Most women and/or couples “want” to have children. But that doesn’t mean they have a “right” to have a child. We believe the rights of children are more important — namely the rights of children who may suffer psychologically because of their surrogate births, and the rights of the unused embryos who are the forgotten victims in surrogacy.
THE IDENTITY CRISIS: WHO AM I?
It’s a question we all ask at one point or another in our lives as we search for our own identity. Who am I? One of the ways children establish that is by identifying where they came from. Who is their mother? Who is their father?
For a child born in surrogacy, there are no easy answer to these questions.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child has a right to a Mother and a Father – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_on_the_Rights_of_the_Child
WHAT IS IT?
What is Surrogacy?
In essence, surrogacy is where a woman carries somebody else’s baby and gives that baby back after birth. In Australia, it’s illegal for that woman to get paid for that, other than to get back any medical or other reasonable expenses she might incur.
There are several reasons for surrogacy. Some couples can’t conceive because they are infertile. A surrogacy arrangement may also involve a same-sex couple or just a single person wishing to have a child. Whatever the reason, surrogacy involves an “arrangement” between the intending parents (or parent) wishing to have a baby, and a surrogate (or birth) mother. They agree that the birth mother will hand over the baby once he or she is born.
SOME Problems with Surrogacy
The arrangement sounds neat and tidy. But in many cases it’s not. It also doesn’t take into account the views of one very important person – the child. Basically in the surrogate arrangement, the child is treated as a commodity.
Surrogacy breaks what is arguably one of the most intimate of all bonds, that of a child and its birth mother. Before the child is even conceived, the plan is for the woman who carries the baby to give it away.
Those for surrogacy will say that the same thing happens to a child involved in an adoption. But there is a key difference here.
Adoption primarily serves the needs an “existing” child. His or her parents decide they aren’t able to raise the child, so the child is given to a couple who can. The primary concern in adoption is the best interests of that child.
There are other reasons as well that Right to Life NSW does not support surrogacy. But paramount, is the needs of the child – a child, who because of surrogacy, may never truly be able to answer the two key questions about his or her life: Who is my father? And who is my mother?
TYPES OF SURROGACY
- COMMERCIAL SURROGACY – Where a surrogate mother is “paid” by the intending parents (or parent) to carry a baby through to birth. This is illegal in Australia.
- ALTRUISTIC SURROGACY – The surrogate mother is not paid to carry the baby. However, the intending parents usually cover the medical expenses, as well as other reasonable expenses incurred by the birth mother.
- GESTATIONAL SURROGACY – The birth mother is inseminated with an embryo created through In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), using the egg and sperm of the intended parents, and is not “genetically” related to the birth mother.
All surrogacy arrangements in Australia must be altruistic. That means the surrogate does not receive any financial compensation, beyond the reimbursement of medical and other reasonable expenses.
In addition, most states have specific laws which outline the requirements for surrogacy. In New South Wales, the law is covered in the Surrogacy Act 2010.
In NSW, paying a woman to carry a baby for others risks two years jail and fines up to $275,000. NSW residents also break the law if they travel outside the state for commercial surrogacy.
[TBC – links to Law Docs]
THE PROBLEMS OF SURROGACY
- FOR THE CHILD- The process of surrogacy tends to reduce the child to an object, rather a person in his or her own right. Issues of identity and belonging end up being important later in life for many these children, as they try to figure out questions like why their birth mother gave them away. The main issue, though, is that child is denied a natural bond with his or her birth mother. Surrogacy intentionally severs this natural and beneficial relationship.
- OTHER CHILDREN – Existing children of the woman acting as a surrogate mother may well form a relationship with the new child in the birth mother’s womb. They too may suffer grief when they learn that the unborn baby is to be given away, and may wonder whether that could happen to them as well.
- FOR THE BIRTH MOTHER – A birth mother enters into a surrogacy agreement before she is pregnant. Once she is pregnant, though, she establishes a bond with the child inside of her through a natural process that is stimulated by the hormone, oxytocin, which is often associated with birth and breast feeding. That natural bonding process, when severed after giving birth, may lead to unforseen psychological issues that the birth mother had no idea she would experience when she first entered into the surrogacy agreement. In addition, there are countless examples where the intending parents failed to hold up their end of the agreement, leaving a surrogate mother saddled with medical or other expenses, a baby she hadn’t planned on keeping, or in extreme cases, a decision on whether to abort the baby.
- FOR THE COUPLE WANTING THE BABY – The surrogacy process involves In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), which in most cases, calls for the creation of multiple embryos. Usually only one or two is placed in the uterus of the surrogate mother. That leaves the couple, or the intending parents, with the decision of what to do with the unused embryos. That decision involves freezing them for future use, donating them to another a couple or mother, destroying them, or donating them to medical research. Whatever that decision is, it is often very painful and emotional. Add to that, the problems that may arise with a surrogate mother, who may decide not to hold up her end of the surrogacy agreement. There are many examples where both sides had an agreement going into the pregnancy, only for things to turn about bad because of a surrogate mother failing to live up to her side of the agreement. That includes not giving up the baby. Finally, they face raising a child who may have emotional or psychological difficulties when he or she learns, or suspects, that they are a surrogate child.