What happens when a woman can do anything she wants with her body, including renting out her womb? What happens when anybody who can afford it has the right to pay medical scientists to create human life in a laboratory, and implant it into the womb of a woman who sells her body? What happens when the creation of human life is separated from basic humanity, and turned instead into a commodity?
This horror story can happen. From Slate:
Last year, a 47-year-old California woman named Melissa Cook decided to become a commercial surrogate. Cook is a mother of four, including a set of triplets, and had served as a surrogate once before, delivering a baby for a couple in 2013. According to her lawyer, Harold Cassidy, she’d found it to be a rewarding way to supplement the salary she earned at her office job. “Like other women in this situation, she was motivated by two things: One, it was a good thing to do for people, and two, she needed some money,” Cassidy says.
For her second surrogacy, Cook signed up with a broker called Surrogacy International. Robert Walmsley, a fertility attorney and part owner of the firm, says he was initially reluctant to work with her because of her age, but relented after she presented a clean bill of health from her doctor. Eventually, Surrogacy International matched her with a would-be father, known in court filings as C.M.
According to a lawsuit filed on Cook’s behalf in United States District Court in Los Angeles earlier this month, C.M. is a 50-year-old single man, a postal worker who lives with his elderly parents in Georgia. Cook never met him in person, and because C.M. is deaf, Cassidy says the two never spoke on the phone or communicated in any way except via email. In May, Cook signed a contract promising her $33,000 to carry a pregnancy, plus a $6,000 bonus in case of multiples. In August, Jeffrey Steinberg, a high-profile fertility doctor, used in vitro fertilization to implant Cook with three male embryos that were created using C.M.’s sperm and a donor egg. (According to the lawsuit, the gender selection was done at C.M.’s request.) When an egg donor is under 35, as C.M.’s was, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine strongly recommends implanting only one embryo to avoid a multiple pregnancy, but some clinics will implant more to increase the chances that at least one will prove viable. In this case, they all survived. For the second time in her life, Cook was pregnant with triplets. And soon, the virtual relationship she had with their father would fall apart.
Read the whole thing. A 50-year-old postal worker, deaf, unmarried, and living with his elderly parents, wanted to buy a baby or babies? What the hell? How do we know he’s not a child molester? It gets worse: author Michelle Goldberg tells us that he’s now broke. He tried to compel the surrogate mom to abort one of the triplets, saying he couldn’t pay for them. Now he’s demanding that when she gives birth, she has to turn the babies over to him, because they’re his property. And then what will he do to those children, those human beings?
Goldberg says even if you support surrogacy, this case and the issues it raises. She writes:
Whether you agree with this depends on your understanding of what it means to be a parent. It depends on whether you believe that pregnancy can ever be merely a service instead of a relationship. Cassidy insists that it cannot. “A woman can’t just turn a child over to anybody,” he says. “You just can’t do it.” But Cook signed a contract, and she may have to.
This practice should be banned. It is inhuman, it is unnatural, and it trains us to see human life as a commodity. C.M., the postal-working baby-buyer, might well be a creep, but if he were part of a stable, well-off couple, that would not change the morality (or rather, the immorality) of what he has done, and what his surrogate has done. Those poor unborn children, their lives nothing more than freight in a contract dispute.
Why does the state allow this? Why do we? Is this freedom? Is this what we will tolerate for the sake of choice? We are a country and a people that will destroy natural parenthood, marriage, childhood, and family, all for the sake of preserving the liberty of adults to do what they damn well please.
We deserve judgment, and we deserve it good and hard.