Women are Not for Rent, Children are Not for Sale

by Matthew Eppinette, CBC Executive Director on February 3, 2017

No

On Monday I wrote about ongoing work in Minnesota to resist efforts that would enshrine surrogacy into law there, and linked to an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. On Tuesday, The Star Tribune ran a piece by Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, seeking to present a fuller picture of the debate than the original Star Tribune article provided.

He writes in part:

[T]he policy question that has been in play at our Legislature for some years is whether we are going to adequately protect Minnesota women from the profit-driven and predatory practices of an international business that objectifies them as “gestators.”

Hostility to surrogacy is not another relic of a Judeo-Christian past, but is led today by feminist voices and a diverse network of nontraditional allies. In fact, the European Court of Human Rights just ruled that its member nations need not embrace surrogacy, noting its potential link with human trafficking. And the European Parliament recently declared it a form of violence against women. Commercial surrogacy arrangements are banned in Canada and some U.S. states as well.

The developing world, where many have traveled looking for surrogates, is also taking measures to protect its citizens from exploitation at the hands of the international surrogacy industry. Limitations on surrogacy continue to emerge because of the troubling stories that appear regularly in the media, from abuses by brokers and fertility clinics, to women locked away for months under supervision while they gestate the “product” for consumption by wealthy consumers. And, as noted in the article, when the child is considered “defective,” those involved in surrogacy arrangements want a way to get rid of him or her, which strikes most as abhorrent.

Because of the increasing lack of availability of surrogates globally, people are turning more to states like Minnesota, where the lucrative nature of commercial surrogacy is driving surrogacy brokers, lawyers and the fertility industry to push for legal frameworks in state legislatures that will allow their business to grow.

Brokers propose legislation that, offered under the guise of protecting the surrogate, is really a measure meant to ensure that these very expensive arrangements, costing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, are enforced by courts — something courts have no duty to do here in Minnesota, in part because of the arrangements’ coercive nature, which threatens the surrogate mother with financial hardship or ruin if she does not comply.

He concludes:

But not every path to family formation is just or serves the well-being of children and society. We cannot address the pain of infertility through the creation of public policies that lead to the exploitation of vulnerable women and do not consider the best interests of the child. Women are not for rent, and children are not for sale.

The entire piece is well worth your time to read. We are glad to partner with such a broad-based coalition in the important work to #StopSurrogacyNow.

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