On Monday January 8th, Pope Francis called for a global ban on surrogacy in an annual speech to diplomats outlining what the Catholic Church considers threats to global peace and humanity.
“I deem deplorable the practice of so-called surrogate motherhood, which represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother’s material needs,” Pope Francis said.
The Pontiff went on to condemn the commercialization of surrogacy, saying that “a child is a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract.”
Pope Francis’ recent statements keep with the Vatican’s oppositional stance on in vitro fertilization. Pope Francis as well as other critics of surrogacy say that compensated surrogacy exploits impoverished women.
These statements have caused a recent surge of interest in surrogacy. Because surrogacy is a family-building method that many people are unfamiliar with, there is also a lot of confusion.
Below, we’ll go into more detail about what surrogacy really is.
What Surrogacy is, and What Surrogacy is Not [Explained]
As a surrogacy agency with our surrogates’ best interests at heart, we empathize with the Pope’s concern for the well-being of gestational carriers. That is why we want to break down some of the Pope’s statements and show how U.S. surrogacy laws protect the surrogate, the intended parents and the baby.
1. “A child is a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract.”
First and foremost, we are in agreement with this sentiment. It’s for this reason that we provide this amazing service. There are so many deserving couples and individuals who want to grow their family, but for one reason or another, are not able to on their own.
Surrogacy allows these hopeful parents to have the family they’ve longed for.
The surrogates we work with have had children of their own and have made the choice to help these couples be able to experience the joy of parenthood.
The compensated surrogacy contract used in the U.S. ensures that the surrogate is able to financially support herself and her family, as well as to maintain her autonomy throughout the surrogacy process. Every surrogate has her own attorney who specializes in the surrogacy laws of her state to ensure that her rights are protected every step of the way.
2. “…based on the exploitation of situations of the mother’s material needs.”
Here, Pope Francis is most likely thinking of the well-documented stories of surrogacy being practiced in other nations in ways that are exploitative, dangerous and unethical. These stories shock the conscious. However, U.S. surrogacy practices are worlds apart from these reports.
In the U.S., surrogacy practices are designed to protect and empower surrogates, and never with the intent to exploit. Through a combination of state laws and medical standards from the ASRM, women considering becoming surrogates in the U.S. can feel confident that their rights and best interests are considered.
Every surrogate we work with starts her surrogacy journey on her own terms. All aspects of the surrogacy journey are done only once she has consented — and no surrogate is ever exploited.
We have surrogacy requirements in place that all of our surrogates must meet before she can begin the surrogacy process, which are based on ASRM standards. Many of these qualifications require her to her already have a strong support system, financial stability, a safe home environment and a healthy lifestyle. These requirements exist to protect the health and safety of her and the child she carries.
3. “… the life of the unborn child in the mother’s womb, which cannot be suppressed or turned into an object of trafficking.”
The safeguards and practices we implement as an agency are designed around the well-being of the child just as much they are the surrogate. Many of the requirements these women must meet before they can become surrogates through our agency pertain to the health and safety of the baby they carry, from conception through delivery.
The compensation provided to the surrogate is not payment for the child. It is for the service she’s providing and so that she can prioritize herself, the hopeful parents’ baby and her own family throughout the surrogacy journey without worrying about covering additional expenses.
Through IVF and gestational surrogacy practices, surrogates are not genetically linked to the child they carry. Before the surrogate begins the medical process of their journey, they work with their attorney to draft a contract that includes acknowledgement of the parentage of the hopeful parents they partner with. They understand that the child they’re carrying is not theirs, nor do they wish for it to be. This is also why we require that our surrogates must be currently raising a child of their own.
Surrogacy is an evolving family-building method, and not every country or organization practices or regulates it the same way. That’s why we as an agency take every measure that we can to protect and empower our surrogates on their journey of helping hopeful parents know the love and joy of building a family.
If you are considering surrogacy as a way to start or grow your family, or if you are thinking about becoming a surrogate, contact us today.