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Pope Francis' Remarks On Surrogacy Prompts Outrage From Advocates

Pope Francis' remarks on surrogacy prompts outrage from advocates as they expressed frustration and displeasure after the Pope called for a worldwide prohibition on the practice, citing his belief that it undermines the dignity of both the woman and the child involved.

Bernard Horne
Jan 11, 2024985 Shares33956 Views
Pope Francis' remarks on surrogacy prompts outrage from advocatesas they expressed frustration and displeasure after the Popecalled for a worldwide prohibition on the practice, citing his belief that it undermines the dignity of both the woman and the child involved.
I feel a huge sense of sadness, because there are people all over the world who have lovingly built familiesthrough surrogacy and may feel the pope has discounted their family and the way they’ve chosen to build it.- Barbara Collura, president and CEO of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association
In his speech on Monday, the 87-year-old leader of the Catholic Churchcharacterized surrogate motherhood as "deplorable" and condemned it as being "based on the exploitation of situations of the mother's material needs."
"A child is always a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract," the pope said. "Consequently, I express my hope for an effort by the international community to prohibit this practice universally."
Judith Hoechst, a resident of the Denver area whose son was born through a surrogate mother, expressed her anger "as a Catholic and as a woman" in response to the pontiff's statement.
"It's insensitive and not in touch with the world," said Hoechst, an attorney whose practice focuses on surrogacy and assisted reproduction. "My son would not be on this Earth but for God, and God makes no mistakes."
On the other hand, some welcomed the pope's remarks, including the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network in Pleasant Hill, California, a longstanding opponent of surrogacy for over two decades.
"Surrogacy has never been the solution," said Kallie Fell, the center's executive director. Though the organization sympathizes with couple longing to become parents, she said, "childrenare not commodities to be bought and sold."

Who Chooses Surrogacy?

The pope's declaration was a component of a 45-minute, comprehensive speech delivered on Monday to almost 200 ambassadors representing nations with diplomatic ties to the Vatican.
Detractors of commercial surrogacy argue that it adversely affects impoverished women in susceptible communities, whereas advocates contend that it provides women an opportunity to help individuals unable to conceive by entering into a protected commercial agreement.
Several nations, along with three U.S. states - Michigan, Nebraska, and Louisiana - have officially prohibited compensated surrogacy. Advocates pointed out that couples may opt for surrogate mothers for various reasons, such as health risks during pregnancy for the mother or medical conditions preventing prospective parents from conceiving or carrying children to term. In cases of repeated miscarriages or unsuccessful attempts at in-vitro fertilization, some couples view surrogacy as a final recourse.
"No one desires using surrogacy," Collura said. "I don't know of a single person or family that intended for this to happen."
Moreover, numerous same-sexcouples consider surrogate mothers as a pathway to parenthood.
This is not cavalier. People don’t just wake up and say they want to do this. They spend months, years preparing. There are so many safeguards, from attorneys to medical providers. It's a very tight process.- Barbara Collura
Pope Francis making a gesture with his face
Pope Francis making a gesture with his face

How Might The Pope's Words Reverberate?

Pamela Lannutti, the director of the Center for Human Sexuality Studies at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, claimed that outlawing surrogacy would eliminate a significant option for LGBTQ+ couples looking to start families.
"Many gay menin the U.S. use surrogacy as a means to become parents," Lannutti said. "The pope is suggesting that the opportunity to form a loving family be lessened not only for some LGBTQ+ couples but also for many different-sex couples who opt for surrogacy to form a family."
Some people have expressed concern that the Pope's call for a surrogacy ban might strengthen the position of those who are opposed to the practice, including lawmakers.
"Politically, it adds fuel to those who are opposed to this type of technology for family-building," said Eric Widra, executive senior medical officer for Shady Grove Fertility in Washington, D.C. "It tends to get conflated with debates over abortion, and for uninformed legislators these types of comments become part of the overall fight against reproductive rights."
Collura, of RESOLVE, agreed.
"I don’t know how strongly the pope's statement will be in influencing legislators, but it will fuel advocates who want to ban surrogacy,” Collura said. “They now have a big ally and will certainly use that."
Fell, representing the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, asserted their stance that commercial surrogacy ought to be outlawed, emphasizing the need for tracking all surrogate pregnancies via a national database. At a minimum, she suggested that the U.S. should halt international surrogacy arrangements and implement policies akin to those governing organ donation.
"We hope voters, politicians and policymakers consider and respond rightly to the words of Pope Francis," Fell said.
Collura remarked that those who object to surrogacy or in-vitro fertilization should choose not to engage in such practices. However, she criticized the notion of preventing others from pursuing these options as "misguided and harmful."
There are Catholics who've built their families this way who will feel that their family is viewed less as a family. My message to those people is, don't listen to that. You went through a lot and should be incredibly grateful and proud that you did.- Barbara Collura
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