Yesterday marked International Women’s Day—a time for the international community and ordinary citizens to “celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievement of women.” A noble and worthwhile cause to be sure.
But when news broke that a clinic in Cleveland successfully performed the nation’s first uterus transplant, some used the occasion to call for greater promotion for surrogacy as a safer, better option for women. As our President Jennifer Lahl was quick to point out on social media, both have serious safety and ethical issues.
In an essay on STAT, authors Josephine Johnson and Eric Trump enumerate the risks of a uterus transplant:
The risks include infection, rejection of the uterus, and miscarriage or stillbirth due to failure of the uterus. A woman would need to have at least three surgeries — the transplant, a cesarean section to deliver the baby, and the eventual removal of the donated uterus.
They go on to note that the procedure also includes risks to the children, notably being born premature.
Due to the number of surgeries required, uterine transplants are, indeed, arguably more complicated than most standard surrogate pregnancies. But simply because one process is easier than another doesn’t make it right or acceptable.
Surrogacy also subjects women to cesarean sections, longer hospital stays, hypertension, and other medical risks, as we document here. And the children born through surrogacy also are at a heightened risk of low birth weights, premature birth, and a higher possibility of stillbirths—not to mention psychological and emotional turmoil as they grow up.
In other words, two wrongs don’t make a right. Rather than promoting the least worst option for women, we should demand better research into understanding the root causes of infertility rather than championing piecemeal solutions. That would be something truly worth celebrating on International Women’s Day and every day.
Image by alphaone via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)