Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Not just Baby Mama

Just a few days ago, "Baby Mama," a comedy about surrogate motherhood premiered. Today, while watching TV, I saw a commercial for SurroGenesis, a surrogacy agency which helps infertile traditional couples, homosexual couples, and singles to have children by pairing them up with surrogate mothers and/or egg donors. They offer two options, one in which the potential parents supply a fertilized egg to the surrogate mother, and one in which only the father donates through artificial insemination. Either way, the surrogate mother is handsomely rewarded with rates starting at $18,000, with many other additional expenses covered as well.
Before I continue, let me express that I understand that great sensitivity is required when dealing with issues such as infertility, and I further understand that I cannot understand the pain, struggle, and disappointment of infertile couples, as I have never experienced it. I may inadvertantly speak with insensitivity, but I will do my best not to. With that said, I must speak from an outsider's perspective, although simply being on the outside does not negate the potential truthfulness of my view.
Returning from my aside, the role of the surrogacy agency appears to be a godsend, a beautiful helping hand reaching out to provide children for those who cannot have their own on their own. At this stage of the game, the agency may very well be that exactly. The future of surrogacy, however, is quite worrying. Assuming the best of surrogacy at present, it is a system of donors who want to help others struggling with infertility and so provide them with children, receiving financial compensation for their increased expenses and effort. There are, of course, moral questions that arise from even such ideal circumstances. For instance, why should so much money and effort be directed toward surrogacy when there are children in need of adoption? Such a question must be answered, but it is still not this situation that so concerns me. I worry for the future of surrogacy, when it will undoubtedly veer away from such ideal circumstances.
A time will likely come when surrogate mothers are no longer simply selfless donors, but will have become a full-time profession for poor women while in their peak years of health. It takes very little imagination to envision the eventual creation of a "breeder" or "bearer" class, a debased form of indentured servitude, in which bodies are signed away for nine-month leases. If such a practice were to arise, one must also wonder when the surrogate mothers will ever have the chance to bear their own children, if their peak years are spent in the business of surrogacy.
It is not just among the surrogates that problems will likely arise, but also among those who hire them. Currently, infertile couples seek out surrogates to bear their children, but why must it remain that way? Surely market forces, coupled with the cultural worship of youthfulness, thinness, and bodily perfection, will eventually lead to wealthy fertile couples hiring surrogates so that the wife will not need to risk her perfect figure in order to enjoy the life of motherhood. Having another woman bear one's own children may, in fact, become a respectable sign of class, wealth, and prestige.
Such possibilities may seem farfetched to some, but unless the government intervenes to regulate surrogacy practices, market forces practically demand such a development. And that would be a scary step, indeed.

Finally Returning

Given the fact that a blog's popularity is tied largely to the regularity with which it is updated, I must assume that no one will read this post. In the off chance that someone does, thank you. I hope to begin writing regularly once again. As I neglected to explain a few months ago why my posting would die off, I will use this post to tell that tale, and hopefully soon return to more theological musings.
The fact is, I have been gone for three and a half months studying abroad in Oxford, England. Originally I had hoped to continue posting, but I neither had the time nor the desire to blog while there. "Why?" you might ask. I was kept busy learning to live in a new culture (surprisingly different than my own), doing more reading and writing than I have in any semester of my life save one, visiting famous sites, and falling in love. With a line-up like that, I hope that you can forgive me for my absence. The semester abroad was fantastic, and is almost impossible to recount in the blog medium (although a taste of my time can be found in my mom's blog, from the 11 days in which she, my dad, and I travelled around England together). For that reason, I will leave this post now, and hopefully return soon with a more theological post. Thanks again, anyone who might be reading this.