By PPL Board Member Mrs. Amy Scherschligt
Surrogacy is becoming normalized, thanks in part to the recent depictions of surrogacy in modern TV and pop culture. Celebrities have opened up about their surrogacy arrangements, which helps to break down the stigma. Surrogacy is a transnational phenomenon and many financial news outlets are reporting that this industry will be valued at $30 billion by 2023.
“Baby-making,” the science of the future, has become the science of the present. Surrogacy, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer are four of the methods used today to enable childless couples to have children. A few years ago, the solution to infertility was adoption, but the legalization of abortion and the change in societal attitudes toward single parenting has dramatically decreased the number of children available for adoption.”
Is surrogacy a beautiful, loving act or does it simply degrade pregnancy to a service and a baby to a product? Should Christians promote it or oppose it? Should we think “Gosh, surrogacy makes babies, so how can that be bad?”
“'All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up.” 1 Cor. 10:23
In one of two Old Testament surrogacies, Abraham and Sara grew impatient with waiting for the child God promised. Genesis 16 tells us they took things into their own hands and had Hagar conceive a child for them. The result was good at first: They finally had a child of their own. But as with any time we wander from God’s timing and provision, unforeseen and long-term consequences appeared: family conflict and division. The science of the present - gestational surrogacy - yields a host of unforeseen and long-term consequences: spiritual, legal, economic, medical and emotional. We at PPL are compelled to think from a Gospel-centered worldview.
How can we think Biblically about surrogacy?
1-Violation of the marital covenant.
God has ordained heterosexual monogamous marriage to provide companionship, to provide sexual fulfillment and to produce children. Surrogacy may involve as many as five separate individuals: egg donor, sperm donor, gestational carrier and one or more “commissioning parents.” This arrangement violates the Creation norm for marriage, family and procreation by creating a baby outside of the marriage covenant.
“Since sex outside of marriage is wrong, babies ought not to be conceived outside of marriage. Thus, the single woman who wants to use artificial insemination in order to bear a child of her own....is violating God’s standards.”
Children are a gift from God, not a right. (Psalm 127:3) If we see children as gifts rather than something we have a right to, we can, by God’s grace, acknowledge His will in all things. (I Peter 1:6,7) “Surrogacy drags the law into baby making, an arena that ordinarily takes place in the intimate realm of love and marriage.”
2-Commodification of the birth mother
Commodification of birth mothers occurs in many ways: language, economics, medical considerations, and more. When they are called “incubators,” “womb donors,” or “egg donors,” birth mothers are regarded as objects rather than as Image-bearers deserving dignity. Perhaps this makes it easier to overlook the ethics of using another person’s body to help another person, or couple, to have a baby. The gestational mother is used for her womb and then is set aside.
The practice of surrogacy exploits poor women for the benefit of the rich who can afford the use of surrogates to achieve their “reproductive goals.” It treats women as second-class citizens, as profiled in the film Breeders: A Subclass of Women? While surrogacy costs between $100,000 - $150,000, the birth mother is paid far less.
“In a commercial surrogacy arrangement in the U.S., the surrogate mother is typically paid $20,000 to $25,000 which averages to approximately $3.00 per hour for each hour she is pregnant. Few women who have financial means are willing to undergo the pain, trauma and grief of surrogacy for such low wages. Women who have a low-income or a lack of financial resources are typically recruited to be surrogates.”
“Don't take advantage of the poor just because you can… “ Prov. 22:22a
The surrogacy industry is driven by profit, and like the abortion industry, does not concern itself with the birth mother’s safety. This practice ignores her humanity. She is rarely fully informed about potential medical risks associated with surrogacy (e.g., hormone injections, egg retrieval, pregnancy with donor eggs, etc.) or emotional damage that can come from giving up a child. “Many are unaware that during pregnancy, the female body is biologically, hormonally and emotionally programmed to bond with the child.”
Feminists in France and Australia believe that surrogacy is violence against women and that it makes pregnancy and childbirth a paid service that is the most formidable violence against women since the time of slavery. In contrast, the United States believes that surrogacy can be carried out with strong contracts and adequate laws and regulations. According to the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network’s Jennifer Lahl, “Regulations will not mitigate health risks, will not remedy the breaking of maternal-child bonds, and will not protect children.”
In the book “Broken Bonds: Surrogate Mothers Speak Out,” released in March 2019, courageous women from around the world share their stories of becoming “surrogate” mothers out of kindness or compassion (or need for money), only to be deceived, neglected and preyed upon by a profit-driven industry.
3-Destruction of embryos
On average, only about 25% of embryos that are created by the use of IVF and transferred to the womb develop until birth. Because of this high failure rate, surrogacy often involves creating more embryos than will be implanted in the womb. The embryos are usually kept in a state of suspended animation (i.e., cryogenically frozen) until their death (which usually occurs in less than 10 years.)
If a doctor implants multiple eggs hoping some of them will survive, the surrogate is sometimes contractually required to abort babies that do not meet specifications of the commissioning parents. She may be contractually required to do “selective reduction,” and abort some of the babies. Scripture is clear about protecting innocent life. (Exodus 20:23)
“The Bible is clear about God’s relationship to the developing baby in the womb (Ps. 139:13-16), its nature and abilities (Ps. 51:5, Luke 1:41-48) and God’s plan for the child’s future (Is. 48:5, Jeremiah 1:5). Therefore, the embryo ought never to be the subject of experimentation that is not intended to benefit the child. Our God is not a utilitarian God. It does not matter what scientific “good” might come from such experimentation, nor how many other lives could be saved.”
4-Commodification of children and medical risks to children
Surrogacy creates a market in human beings who are God’s image-bearers.
“Children are a gift from God (Psalm: 127:3) and not a commodity to be bought and sold. Traditional surrogacy is always immoral if the mother gives up her child for payment. Likewise, gestational surrogacy is always immoral when the embryos or gametes used in the surrogacy are ‘purchased’ for the purpose of implantation.”
If the child is born with birth defects, or the “wrong” sex, there is a risk that the “commissioning” parents will abandon the child. In addition, children born through surrogacy are much more at risk of low and very low birth weights and a 4-to-5-fold increase in stillbirths.
Surrogacy violates the God-ordained relationship of marriage, parenthood, commodifies God’s images-bearers and puts innocent lives at risk. Christians should consider it in the light of the Bible and not the culture’s siren call to financial gain or altruism. Several action steps can be taken:
Pray for the protection of marriage and parenthood from the risks of surrogacy
Share this article and footnotes with your pastor and elders
Your Life Team can organize a viewing and discussion of the film #Big Fertility: It’s all about the money, produced by Jennifer Lahl
Prepare a presentation on a Biblical response to surrogacy to give to a small group at your church
Promote Snowflakes Adoption to couples struggling with infertility.
Go to www.nightlight.org to learn about adopting a frozen embryo
What is surrogacy? Surrogacy is the practice by which a woman (called a surrogate mother) becomes pregnant and gives birth to a baby in order to give it to someone who cannot (or will not) bear children of their own. If the surrogate mother receives compensation beyond the reimbursement of medical and other reasonable expenses, the arrangement is called commercial surrogacy; otherwise, it is referred to as altruistic surrogacy.
1. Traditional surrogacy: The surrogate mother is impregnated naturally or artificially, but the resulting child is genetically related to the surrogate mother. A traditional surrogate is the baby’s biological mother since the child was conceived from the union of her egg and the father’s sperm.
2. Gestational surrogacy: The pregnancy results from the transfer of an embryo created by in-vitro fertilization (IVF), in a manner so the resulting child is genetically unrelated to the surrogate.
 Roback-Morse, Jennifer, https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2016/06/04/why-everyone-should-oppose-surrogacy/