Blog Post

Pope Condemns Surrogacy as a Violation of Woman and Child

During his annual address to the world’s ambassadors to the Vatican yesterday, Pope Francis called for an international ban on the “deplorable” practice of surrogacy, saying that it “represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child.”

According to the National Catholic Register, the pope addressed the exploitive practice during an address held in the Vatican’s gilded Hall of Blessings on January 8.

“The path to peace calls for respect for life, for every human life, starting with the life of the unborn child in the mother’s womb, which cannot be suppressed or turned into an object of trafficking,” the Pope said.

“In this regard, I deem deplorable the practice of so-called surrogate motherhood, which represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother’s material needs. A child is always a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract.”

Surrogate motherhood involves the artificial insemination of a woman with an embryo created by a couple who cannot carry a child for a variety of reasons such as medical complications, infertility, same-sex relations, age, or the desire to single parent.

The practice has been growing internationally and is now a $14 billion dollar industry that is expected to grow by another $8 billion by 2027. It's expected to reach a staggering $129 billion by 2032.

Hollywood stars such as Paris Hilton Reum have been resorting to the practice for a variety of reasons. Paris brought two children into the world via surrogacy which she chose due to the PTSD she suffered as a result of sexual abuse at a boarding school.

Kim Kardashian had a child via surrogacy after two traumatic pregnancies in which she suffered from placenta accreta, a condition where the placenta grows into the uterine wall and can cause life-threatening hemorrhaging after childbirth.

Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra Jonas  chose surrogacy for their first child due to unexplained “medical complications.”

The process is problematic on many levels. First, surrogates are usually paid anywhere from $60,000 to $92,000 plus expenses in the U.S. for carrying the child to term. This high salary often exploits poor women who might resort to, or be pressured into, agreeing to the practice out of financial desperation.

Second, it requires the use of IVF, a practice which is not permitted by Catholics. As the Catechism states, “Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child’s right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses’ ‘right to become a father and a mother only through each other’ (No. 2376).”

Third, the surrogate is often required to sign a contract promising to abort the baby for a variety of reasons such as the discovery of an abnormality, as a means of “selective reduction” when too many of the implanted embryos become viable and the couple feels the need to “downsize” the pregnancy, or when the couple undergoes a change in their personal circumstances and no longer wants the child. These terms effectively reduce a child to nothing more than a commodity.

Chieko Noguchi, executive director of public affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, praised the papal remarks in a statement.

“As Pope Francis stated, with surrogacy, an unborn child is turned into ‘an object of trafficking’ because it exploits the birth mother’s material needs and makes the child the product of a commercial contract. This is why the Catholic Church teaches that the practice of surrogacy is not morally permissible. Instead, we should pray for, and work towards, a world that upholds the profound dignity of every person, at every stage and in every circumstance of life,” Noguchi said.

This isn’t the first time the Pope denounced the use of surrogacy. In a 2022 meeting with members of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe, he said, “The dignity of men and women is also threatened by the inhumane and increasingly widespread practice of ‘womb renting,’ in which women, almost always poor, are exploited, and children are treated as commodities.”

The Pope went on to call for a universal ban on the practice of surrogacy, saying that “At every moment of its existence, human life must be preserved and defended; yet I note with regret, especially in the West, the continued spread of a culture of death, which in the name of a false compassion discards children, the elderly and the sick.”

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