Chapter 13 :Reproduction: Assistance and Control Issues   

Section 4. Readings

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Instruction on Respect for Human life

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Gillian Hanscombe: The right to Lesbian Parenthood

Homosexual parents are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual parents.

No data exists that indicates they are less responsible parents


Cynthia B.Cohen: "Give me Children or I shall Die" New Reproductive Technologies and Harm to Children

It is wrong to have children knowing that they will or will likely have defects, suffering, or deficits. There is no obligation to do whatever is available to have a child.


Bonnie Steinbock: Surrogate Motherhood as Parental Adoption

Regulating surrogacy, minimizing potential harm and protecting liberty is preferable to prohibiting the practice.


Elizabeth S. Anderson: Is Women's Labor a Commodity?

Commercial surrogacy should be outlawed. It is harmful to children and degrades and exploits women. It views children as property.


Arlene Judith Klotzko: Medical Miracle or Medical Mischief?

Artificial insemination or chemical stimulation and multiple fetus problem: septuplets.


Leon R. Kass: The Wisdom of Repugnance

1. Cloning distorts the cloned person's sense of individuality and social identity.

2. It transforms procreation into manufacture and children into commodities.

3.It encourages parents to regard children as property.


National Bioethics Advisory Commission: Cloning Human Beings: ethical Considerations

At present cloning lacks safety

Unresolved concerns make it unwise to proceed at this time.

Refuse to find cloning as inherently unethical.


Peter Singer,  Creating Embryos


Genes, Embryos and Ethics


Uterus Transplant


"Surrogate Motherhood as Prenatal Adoption," by Bonnie Steinbock


Summary on "Surrogate Motherhood as Prenatal Adoption," by Bonnie Steinbock by Sepideh Roozdar, QCC, 2007

In her article, "Surrogate Motherhood as Prenatal Adoption," Bonnie Steinbock argues that surrogacy is not intrinsically wrong, as it should be a regulated procedure as opposed to being prohibited. She starts her article with the case of Baby M, a child born to a surrogate mother, Mrs. Whitehead, who refused to surrender her child at birth. After a long custody battle, the child was granted to the Sterns on the grounds that the Whiteheads were not able to offer a stable home to Baby M. At the same time, the legal mother, Mrs. Whitehead was granted visitation rights—a long story which left the courts pondering over legislations that ensures that this scenario would never happen again.


Steinbock continues her article reiterating her belief that instead of a ban on surrogacy, legitimate concerns might be better served by careful regulation. Before she expands on this idea, however, she considers "arguments that surrogacy is intrinsically unacceptable." Mill once wrote that, "no one should be allowed to sell himself into slavery, because to do so would be to destroy his future autonomy" (Munson, 5 th Ed., Ch.8). From this, one may decide that agreeing to become a surrogate mother means giving up one's autonomy to the "state to make decisions for us in all these matters." On the other hand, Steinbock writes that "respect for individual freedom requires us to permit people to make choices which they may later regret." This is true in that we all make mistakes in our lives and, hopefully, learn lessons from them. To give up the right to make choices, even bad choices, is to give up one's autonomy.


Furthermore, Steinbock touches upon the idea of how some argue that "the sale of a child…is analogous to slavery, and so is inconsistent with human dignity." It is not an overstatement to claim that "human life has intrinsic value; it is literally priceless." One way to regulate the system of "baby-selling," according to Steinbock would be to "limit payment to medical expenses associated with the birth or incurred by the surrogate during pregnancy." This idea follows along with procedures such as egg donation in IVF or even organ donation compensations. "The payment should be seen as compensation for the risks, sacrifice, and discomfort the surrogate undergoes during pregnancy."


Steinbock points out how "George Annas makes the novel argument that the right to rear a child you have borne is also a privacy right." A solution to respect this idea and in prospect of surrogate regulation would be to provide a waiting period, as in ordinary postnatal adoptions, which may help protect women from making irrevocable mistakes (Munson, 5 th Ed., Ch.8). This allows the process to run more smoothly in a more tightly controlled process without banning the entire process. According to Steinbock, "this requirement would make stricter screening and counseling of surrogates essential, a desirable side effect."


Another point that people make in prospect of prohibiting surrogacy is "on grounds of its harmfulness to the offspring" or even the siblings of the child to be given away. A certain attachment would be created with the older child and the surrogate child, as their mother's belly would be an interesting spot to feel a heartbeat or feel the baby's legs kick. On the other hand, Steinbock argues that "it should be remembered that many things, including divorce, remarriage, and even moving to a new neighborhood, create anxiety and resentment in children" and for this reason, "we should not use the effect on children as an excuse for banning a practice we find bizarre or offensive."


In conclusion, Bonnie Steinbock has made a strong argument against the idea of prohibiting surrogacy. She clearly believes that beyond the ideas of inconsistency with human dignity, degrading views towards "child-selling," and so-called exploitation of people, the process can be regulated to become a safe and controlled procedure.



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