Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Back to the serious stuff: educating the masses

Everyone's got an opinion on something or other, even if they have no real understanding of, nor have researched the issue they feel so free to comment upon. I present to you a recently published article by a Catholic Priest, who appears t be pretty technologically savvy, and seeks a spot in the limelight. Fair enough, we all seek our 15 minutes of fame, at one time or another.

At the end of the article is the Vatican's position on surrogacy. Of course, I disagree. But then I disagree with the Catholic Church on many human rights issues, including it's failure promote safe sex through use of condoms, its ban on women priests and its continued ignorance and acceptance of the fact that people have sex out of wedlock, and that can lead to unwanted babies. I also disagree with the amazing wealth held by the church all over the world, plus the disgraceful wastage of money they spend on pretty buildings, robes, pomp and circumstance and the rest, while the millions of souls they purport to be helping are suffering.

The comments (in blue) are mine. Please feel free to comment, and agree or disagree with me, even if you are an anonymous poster. I welcome the opportunity to question my opinion.

Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-24202?l=english

Outsourcing Motherhood

Surrogate Births Raise Troubling Questions

By Father John Flynn, LC

Parenthood is getting a lot more complicated, thanks to the way in-vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques are being used by some.

A case in point is the fate of a 3-month-old girl born to an Indian surrogate mother, who has spent the first months of her life in the midst of legal battles. The matter has just been resolved, CNN reported Nov. 2. Baby Manjhi and her grandmother arrived in Osaka, Japan, from the Indian capital, New Delhi, to join her biological father.

The origins of the dispute were explained in an article published Oct. 6 in the Singapore-based newspaper the Straits Times.

Manjhi was born as a result of the combination of the sperm of a Japanese husband and an anonymous donor's egg implanted in the womb of an Indian surrogate mother in the town of Anand, in the state of Gujarat.

The legal problems arose when the father, Ikufumi Yamada, and his wife, Yuki Yamada, who had paid for the services of the surrogate mother, were divorced before the birth of Manjhi. The husband [wanted] to keep the baby, but his ex-wife did not want her any more.

Indian law requires a mother must be present in order for a baby to receive a passport. In the case of Manjhi neither the birth mother nor the ex-wife wanted to be involved.

The matter was eventually resolved in a decision by India’s Supreme Court that not only gave the baby over to Ikufumi Yamada, but also confirmed that surrogacy is legal.

According to the Straits Times the decision came just as the government has published draft surrogacy laws. Up until now surrogacy has operated in a legal vacuum.

IVF tourists

The boom in surrogate motherhood in India has been the target of increasing media attention. The Australian-based Sun Herald newspaper reported Nov. 2 that India is receiving numerous IVF tourists from Europe and Britain, drawn by brazenly-worded ads such as: “Healthy young women superovulated exclusively for you!”

Not only does India offer surrogate mothers, but also offers donor eggs to women who fly to India for them to be implanted.

The Sun Herald article recounted the case of Ekaterina Aleksandrova, who holds German citizenship. She flew to India, had 5 embryos implanted in her womb, and subsequently become pregnant with one embryo.

Aleksandrova has no genetic link with her baby, born in September. Moreover, the baby's biological parents live 7,000 kilometers apart and are of different languages and cultures.

Both sperm and eggs come from anonymous donors. The former was bought online from a Danish sperm bank and the latter came from an Indian woman.

Another recent case was that of Bobby and Nikki Burnes, examined by the BBC in an Oct. 12 report. Their three-month-old daughter, Daisy, was conceived at the Rotunda clinic in Mumbai (Bombay).

The baby born was the result of a donor egg fertilized with Bobby's sperm, and implanted into the womb of a surrogate mother.

According to the BBC, the use of Indian surrogates is particularly prevalent among Asian couples in Britain due to a scarcity of eggs or sperm from Asian donors.

It is also markedly cheaper to use the services of Indian clinics and women, compared to Western countries. According to the BBC, the Indian surrogate mothers receive between 2,500 to 3,500 pounds ($3,922 to $5,475), the equivalent of 10 years' salary for some of them.

Earlier, on March 4, the International Herald Tribune reported the cost of using IVF services in India -- including air tickets and hotel costs -- comes to around $25,000 for overseas couples, about a third of what the cost would be for a similar service in the United States.

Surrogate mothers are also available for same-sex couples. The article recounted the case of Yonatan Gher and an unnamed male partner. They used the services of the same Rotunda clinic mentioned by the BBC.

At the clinic Dr. Kausal Kadam created an embryo for Gher and his partner, with sperm from one of the men -- they would not disclose which one -- and an egg removed from a donor just minutes before in another part of the clinic.

No contacts between egg donor, surrogate mother or future parents were permitted, the article noted.

Outsourcing concerns
The report also observed that a number of ethical questions are being raised about the use of surrogate mothers in India. Critics are worried about the danger of exploitation. As well, couples use the services to skirt laws in their own countries.

So? Of course we do. If commercial surrogacy were legal in Australia I would be doing it here. Your point is?

Although Israel has legalized adoption by same-sex couples, surrogacy for these couples is still not permitted.

Another case of evading laws came recently with the birth in France of triplets to a 59-year-old woman. Yes, we are. And the problem is? We wouldn't need to evade laws if the laws were reasonable in our countries of origin.

The woman's pregnancy prompted controversy in France, according to a Sept. 8 report by the Associated Press. French law concerning egg donation excludes women over 42 from access to the procedure. I turned 42 last week. I will be a far better mother now, than I would have been at any other time in my life. I now have the the financial capacity and emotional maturity to care for a child. Does the average 23-year-old have this? Look at all the fertiles out there breeding faster than myximitosis spreads through a rabbit population. Those of any age who suck on government welfare, abuse their children, abuse drugs and alcohol, and live off our tax dollars. This French law is pure and simply age discrimination. When a country has such antiquated laws in place, no wonder its citizens do what they can to avoid them.

Japan is also debating the use of surrogate mothers, reported Reuters on March 12. Japanese obstetricians adopted a ban against surrogate births in 1983, but there is no binding law. Reuters explained that some couples have had children through surrogate mothers with the help of doctors in Japan.

According to the article a panel of experts at the Science Council of Japan, which has debated the issue for more than a year at the request of the government, argues that surrogate births pose health risks to both surrogate mothers and children. I would like to see the evidence. Has there been any double-blind scientifically proven studies that show this is the case? If there is, have these studies been repeated in a controlled environment? Show me the proof.

The experts have also cited concerns about the possibility family members might be forced to take on the role by relatives. And this is why surrogacy, both altruistic and commercial, needs regulation. There can be pressure on family members to act a surrogates, also sperm and egg donors. However, no-one can be forced unwillingly to enter into such agreements if they are counselled by qualified mental health professionals.

"New legislation is needed and based on that legislation, it is desirable for surrogate conception to be banned in principle for now," the panel said this month in a draft report calling for doctors, agents and clients all to be punished for commercial surrogacy births. As far I am aware, this is happening in the main surrogacy communities. The cases where people are coerced into surrogacy would be few and far between (prove me wrong). So why blanket ban the process and satisfy the ignorant few at the expense of the many?

Opinion columnist Ellen Goodman also expressed concern over surrogate mothers in a piece published April 11 in the Boston Globe.

Goodman expressed her sympathy for couples who have difficulty in conceiving naturally. Nevertheless, she fretted about the commercialism in surrogate motherhood, where a person becomes a mere product to be traded on the international markets. Is she talking about the children born through surrogacy or the surrogates? God gave us free will, and part of that gives women the right to decide what we do with our bodies. Unfortunately many laws take that freedom away. I wonder if Ms Goodman is opposed to abortion.

“We cannot, for example, sell ourselves into slavery,” she commented. “We cannot sell our children. But the surrogacy business comes perilously close to both of these." How so? Who is selling what? The surrogate is not selling her womb ... she gets it back. She is not selling a child. She never owned it in the first palace. Yes, she is selling a service. Yes, IPs are paying for a service. Again, with all parties entering the arrangement willingly, the problem is? And many a person does sell themselves into slavery of various forms: an unhappy marriage where one partner is financially exploited by the other; or the workforce: being contracted for 38 hours week yet doing 60 hours to get the job done, and not being paid for the extra hours are but two examples.

Respecting life
The Catholic Church is clear regarding its opposition, both to IVF as a whole and also to the use of surrogate mothers. In its 1987 instruction on respecting human life in its origin, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dealt with surrogates among other points. That was 21 years ago.

The instruction rejected the practice, not only because it introduces a third person into the relationship of the husband and wife, but also because: “Surrogate motherhood represents an objective failure to meet the obligations of maternal love, of conjugal fidelity and of responsible motherhood.” Maternal love: So the surrogate is the "mother" and by giving the child to its parents means she does not love the child. The child was never hers. The child was broght into the world by the commissioning parents. Without the IPs, the child would never have life. It is the IP's responsibility to love the child. Conjugal fidelity: Hands up any couples who are entering into, or have already done so, a surrogacy agreement who have been practised infidelity to their partner. The men don't have sex with the surrogate to create the child. They don't fall in love with the surrogate. They don't emotionally covet, nor lust for the surrogate. Are these not the definitions of infidelity? Male participants to a surrogacy agreement have enormous respect for the surrogate and incredible gratitude. We'll leave the lust issue to Catholic priests. Responsible motherhood: I am the mother, and I am VERY responsible. So get off the surrogate's back.

The instruction also argued that the use of a surrogate mother offends the dignity and the right of the child to be brought into the world by its own parents. So exactly who is nringing a surrogcay-born child into the world? Aliens? The problem we have here is that the Vatican sees the person who has the body - the physical vehicle through which a child is carried, and born - as the parent.

This teaching was confirmed by the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged ‘right to a child’ would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right ‘to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents,' and 'the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception’” (No. 2378). I guess the first quote indicates that children should only be born through the sexual love of two parents. Ideal. I would like that as my first option. But I cannot, through no fault of my own. A child not born through the conjugal love of two parents, as in the case of unwanted pregnancy and rape, then thereefore does not have this right. Are children born through those circumstances any less loved, cherished or desired? Maybe, maybe not. Should we abort children born through such circumstances because they do not have this "right"? As for quote two? Not only are the children born through surrogacy respected, they are more than cherished. They are wanted and desired. They are hoped for, planned for and fought for, at great cost to the parents, who understand children are spirits first and bodies last. How their spirit is brought to live on planet earth does not matter, the fact remains, commissioning parents feel the spirits of their children so deeply, and yearn for them so hungrily, they will go to great lengths to create the physical vessels (the human body) in order to be joined with their children's souls.

Unfortunately, however, globalization has extended its reach to the womb and a burgeoning trade in human life is taking place, to the detriment of human rights.

I'm not trading my soon-to-be-conceived children with anyone for anything!

1 comment:

R and S and Family said...

Id just like to say..

That the Catholic Church forgets one simple thing.....

Jesus Christ was a very well publicised Surrogate conception from whos birth spawned the basis of the Catholic Faith, but he wasnt the first birth o tan IP that God had played a hand in helping along .. infact without Surrogacy there wouldnt be a Jesus..

God, Yeshua, Yaweh, Jehovah. The flying spaghetti Monster.. whatever you want to call him..

Was the Sperm Donor and Mary the Mum. Good old Joseph was the Intending Dad. How kind of God to offer up his services as well as Mary to agree.

Lets also look at Abraham shall we.... He was an OLD OLD man when he became a father.. and HOW did he do that??? In fact WITHOUT Abrahams lineage, there wouldnt be a King David then through that there would be no Joseph to help facilitate the contract with God for his sperm donation to MARY.

The Story of Abraham, from the Hebrew Bible
(Genesis 16:1-3, 15-16, 17, 21:1-2)

Now Sarai, Abram's wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, and Sarai said to Abram, "You see that the LORD has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her. "And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. . . .

Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael


Lol.. I can do this forever and a day.

The RCC can prattle on all it likes but best decide to either admit the usage of Surrogacy in its own back yard first.. or shush up and let the rest of us get on with making safe, happy and loving families.