“The only ethical approach to surrogacy is to ban and abolish it”

Surrogacy (Surrogacy) is a social practice by which a woman, in good health and without desire for a child, agrees to carry a pregnancy to term, at the request of other people, with the aim of their deliver the child from birth. This may or may not come from the mother’s oocytes, and the mother may or may not be paid to give life to the child. and to give it to its sponsors.

→ INVESTIGATION. Embryos, investigation into global trafficking

The acronym GPA also designates a globalized market, estimated in 2019 at around $ 6 billion (legal transactions, excluding traffic). In France, the practice is prohibited in the name of the principles of unavailability and non-patrimoniality of the human body. On the other hand, the effects of the market and especially the driving force of its commercial strategies are increasingly present, through explicit marketing and advertising operations, including in the public media.

In this context, the expression “ethical surrogacy” comes up regularly, to suggest that there are methods of this practice compatible with our main principles, starting with respect for people. These modalities are different, even opposed, but they always refer to the woman who becomes a surrogate mother. The “ethical surrogacy” would be, as described in a program of France Culture, a process in which the woman would be selected according to her state of physical and mental health, and also according to her social condition, verified through her tax notice.

Moral absolution of clients

For others, what counts is her motivation: the woman must be moved by altruism alone, and accept money out of kindness (a “reasonable amount”, say satisfied customers, activists for the development of this market. ) which would be paid to him by the sponsors, in full recognition. For still others, on the contrary, there could be no money paid to the mother (one must be wary of venal women).

→ READ. Bioethics, surrogacy is invited into the debate

Finally, the more daring dare to consider a condition also concerning the sponsors, by proposing to designate as “ethical surrogacy” the process in which there is a family bond between the sponsors and the mother, in which case, of course, the latter. would have as reward the gratitude of the future parents and the satisfaction of his sacrificial altruism. The financial importance of the market and the lobbying of its supporters (through numerous testimonies from those who have had recourse to expensive and influential service providers), induce, in public discourse, a clear trend: “ethical surrogacy” corresponds to the model. commercial posed by the United States, where the mother declares to like to be pregnant, to become a “carrier” by choosing to “give the gift of life”, where she is paid (for the time and energy that the pregnancy represents), genuinely selfless (otherwise she wouldn’t), and convinced that the child is not hers. A happy coincidence, which matches the interests of the market – where American prices are in the lead – and the moral absolution of customers and providers.

An advertising speech

But this widespread advertising discourse cannot transfigure the nature of surrogacy; and when the king is naked, one must have the courage to say so. There is no ethical surrogacy, there cannot be. The question is not that of its modalities, but of its very nature, which is incompatible with the notion of ethics. Surrogacy always consists of subjecting a woman to an over-medicalized pregnancy, and thus putting her at enormous risks to her health and to her life, as feminist analyzes have shown for nearly 40 years (1). Surrogate mothers died as early as the 1980s and until this year. Whether she is paid or not, fully informed of the risks or not, altruistic or not, whether the sponsors are strangers, relatives or even members of her family, that does not change anything.

→ READ. New modes of procreation in ethical distress

A woman, a mother, who says she wants to please others, becomes pregnant without wanting to have a child; if we agree to have women carry pregnancies under these conditions, the demand for women’s access to abortion will become superfluous. During the surrogacy, the mother imposes on herself a psychic dissociation: she is pregnant, undergoes heavy drug treatments, must give a child in good health, but must not become attached to it; she is, in her own eyes, only an object (oven, pod, incubator).

This fragmentation that the woman imposes on herself on command is the very essence of patriarchy; the division of the unity of the person, the fragmentation of the continuity of the human being, which justifies the effacement of woman as subject. By self-sacrificial altruism (sexist stereotype par excellence), she consents to her dehumanization, even claims it. Finally, how to speak of “ethical surrogacy”, when this market consists in manufacturing human beings by contract, to order, (most often) for money. The sale of children is neither legal nor moral; Calling it “ethical surrogacy” does not make it acceptable. And to have a newborn baby, on the basis of a contract, is to deny him the status of human being, to deny his equal dignity with other humans.

The sordid reality of exploitation

The adjective is only used as a nice screen, put there to cover up the sordid reality of exploitation. Devoid of meaning in itself, the expression “ethical surrogacy” clearly designates the feeling of impunity of customers, especially those whom their wealth and their networks protect. It also designates a search for respect for the market, which the regulations would make acceptable; but we do not regulate access to the reproductive body of women, except by denying their humanity. Finally, this expression sums up the misuse of political, media and judicial powers for the benefit of commercial interests and to the detriment of the most vulnerable.

The only ethical approach to surrogacy is therefore to prohibit and abolish it.


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