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Sweden May Ban Commercial and Altruistic Surrogacy

One of my favorite sources of contemporary issues in Bioethics, Bioedge reports that Sweden may ban both commercial and altruistic surrogacy. Surrogacy, as you may know, is the practice of a woman giving permission for implantation in her womb of an embryo from In-Vitro-Fertilization, carrying the baby to term and birth, then surrendering the child to the person(s) with whom they made the agreement. 

Fear that women may be pressured to become surrogates along with the fact that under Swedish law, the birth mother is the legal parent of the child were the two primary reasons to ban the practice according to a report given to the country's legislative body.

Kajsa Ekis Ekman, a Swedish journalist and author wrote a scorching commentary in support of a ban on both commercial and altruistic surrogacy. She mentions many difficulties with surrogacy, beginning with the famous Baby M case, in which the birth mother surrogate changed her mind about giving up the baby, but was forced by court order to relinquish the child. Deaths of surrogate mothers, demands of biological parents that defective or excessive embryos be aborted, and the bizarre case of a Japanese businessman who "ordered" 16 babies from clinics in Thailand are just some of the thorny dilemmas which arise from allowing surrogacy. Ekman writes:

Surrogacy may have been surrounded by an aura of Elton John-ish happiness, cute newborns and notions of the modern family, but behind that is an industry that buys and sells human life. Where babies are tailor-made to fit the desires of the world’s rich. Where a mother is nothing, deprived even of the right to be called “mum”, and the customer is everything. The west has started outsourcing reproduction to poorer nations, just as we outsourced industrial production previously. It is shocking to see how quickly the UN convention on the rights of the child can be completely ignored. No country allows the sale of human beings – yet, who cares, so long as we are served cute images of famous people and their newborns?


The teaching of the Catholic Church on surrogacy was clearly stated in Donum Vitae (The Gift of Life) promulgated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1987:

Surrogate motherhood represents an objective failure to meet the obligations of maternal love, of conjugal fidelity and of responsible motherhood; it offends the dignity and the right of the child to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up by his own parents; it sets up, to the detriment of families, a division between the physical, psychological and moral elements which constitute those families.