According to Jennifer Lahl, president and founder of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network and a pediatric intensive care nurse, this new policy alert issued by the Department of Homeland Security is the equivalent of hanging out a sign that says: 'Babies for Sale! Complete with U.S. Citizenship!'"
Essentially, the new policy clarifies the definition of “mother” and “parent” under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to include gestational mothers using assisted reproductive technology regardless of whether they are the genetic mothers. The term of "mother" and "parent" under the new guidelines will mean any woman who gave birth to the child, not just the legal mother of the child.
Under this new policy, "a mother who meets this definition but does not have a genetic relationship with her child (for example, she became pregnant through an egg donor) will:
• Be able to petition for her child based on their relationship • Be eligible to have her child petition for her based on their relationship • Be able to transmit U.S. citizenship to her child, if she is a U.S. citizen and all other pertinent citizenship requirements are met.
What are the implications of this change in policy?
"First, it will encourage much more reproductive tourism," Lahl explains. "If anyone from another country wants access to U.S. citizenship for their child, all they have to do is hire a woman in the U.S. to serve as their surrogate. This will no doubt raise the price a surrogate can charge. I can only imagine the advertising and marketing that will come when the wealthy want to buy their way into the U.S."
Second, there is not even a hint of any of the known risks to women who participate in surrogacy, an industry that is riddled in female exploitation, or in the harm it does to children such as those mentioned in this article who have banded together to fight the practice because of its ill-effects on offspring.
"Finally, it seems to me that the claiming the surrogate is the mother until citizenship is conferred on the child and then quickly asking the mother to terminate her maternal parentage status for the “intended parents” instrumentalizes motherhood in the worst way. Is the surrogate a mother or isn’t she?"
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