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The arguments for human surrogacy Essay

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With reference to both religious and ethical views, explain the arguments for human surrogacy. [35]

Surrogacy is when a woman carries a child on behalf of someone else. There are four broad types of surrogacy: partial, full, commercial and voluntary. Partial surrogacy occurs when the surrogate mother provides her egg which is fertilised either in vitro and placed through artificial insemination into the womb or she is artificially inseminated by the intended father’s sperm. Only in very rare cases would sexual intercourse take place. Full surrogacy occurs when the intended parents provide egg and sperm. In some cases a donor sperm/egg may be used.

Commercial surrogacy refers to arrangements whereby a woman is contracted and paid to be a surrogate mother and to deliver a baby to the intended parents; in many countries this is illegal. Voluntary or altruistic surrogacy refers to a surrogate arrangement where the surrogate mother voluntarily offers to bear a child for another couple but not for commercial gain. Surrogacy of any kind raises many religious and ethical issues. In examining reasons why people may be in favour of surrogacy, a good place to start is the Christian view.

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Surrogacy tends to be supported by liberal denominations such as the United Methodist Church in America. Surrogacy could be a way in which an infertile couple could fulfil the Biblical injunction to, “be fruitful and multiply.” Children can compete a marriage and are a gift from God. Surrogacy could be an act of immense compassion and selfless service, in line with the teaching of Jesus: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them,” Matthew 9:36. Voluntary or altruistic surrogacy refers to a surrogate arrangement where the surrogate mother voluntarily offers to bear a child for another couple but not for commercial gain. Her motives could be out of love or charity or self-fulfilment. The story of Abraham and Hagar is a Biblical example of surrogacy, although it does not necessarily condone or promote the practice.

Christian and secular utilitarians alike support surrogacy. Utilitarians believe that man has a natural desire to reproduce based in human biology. The Utilitarian wishes to maximise happiness and minimise the pain of infertility. Since successful surrogacy will bring an enormous amount of happiness. When considering issues such as infertility we must not look at it in impersonal, philosophical terms. It is a problem that can only be truly understood at human level. Those that have never suffered infertility will not know the true pain these theorists are in agreement with such treatments. In the case of an infertile couple the utilitarian will look at the options available and strive towards to goal of conception. To quote Laura Bush, “For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows over their lives.”

Proponents of situation ethics also would support surrogacy, depending on the circumstances. This theory is in favour of reproductive technology if it is the most loving course of action in the particular situation. It is not absolutist. This theory says that individual situations are different. This theory believes that there is only one underlying principle: you do whatever is the most loving thing to do in a situation. Ethical rules are secondary. In the circumstances of an infertile couple you take the line of action which will be the most loving thing for a couple in their unique circumstances.

Furthermore, surrogacy is an issue of personal autonomy and reproductive freedom. To a large extent in the western world there has been a tradition of giving couples the freedom to make their own decisions about childbearing and childrearing. The family has historically been a place with a right to privacy and beyond the intervention of governments. To some extent this has changed with the introduction of artificial forms of reproduction e.g. IVF treatment. If a couple deeply desires children, it should not be the government’s role to tell them what they can and cannot do.

It could be argued that parenthood is a human right, because according to the UNHRD: “Parents have the exclusive right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.” Humans have personal sovereignty, which is to be free of the control or coercion of others. Therefore they should be allowed to make their own decisions about their families. After all, in most cases a surrogate child is a wanted child whose parents are prepared to go to extreme lengths to have them, suggesting that they will make very good parents. This alone could be enough to justify the practice. Surrogacy is generally supported within the homosexual community, because it enables same sex couples to become parents through the introduction of a third party.

Ultimately, surrogacy causes us to rethink our views on family, marriage, sex and what makes a mother. Regardless of our views, we should be compassionate towards those suffering from the effects of infertility. You cannot understand their situation unless you have experienced it personally. To quote Elayne Boosler, “The Vatican is against surrogate mothers. Good thing they didn’t have that rule when Jesus was born.”

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