Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. That sums up the Jan. 29 article “New push to rein in surrogacy,” which offers a simplistic and misleading presentation of what’s at stake in the policy debate. In its overwrought attempt to cast the Catholic Church as negatively as possible — imposing its rigid, crusty dogmas to “restrict” people’s opportunity for happiness and family fulfillment — the article ultimately denies Minnesotans the opportunity to understand the serious ethical concerns related to surrogacy arrangements as well as the major policy reasons that many people would be opposed to a full-blown commercial surrogacy market here in Minnesota.

The so-called restrictionist campaign of the church and other concerned groups (religious and secular) is, in fact, our effort to push back on a multibillion-dollar business’s agenda to make Minnesota an epicenter in the global surrogacy industry. Put another way, the policy question that has been in play at our Legislature for some years is whether we are going to adequately protect Minnesota women from the profit-driven and predatory practices of an international business that objectifies them as “gestators.”

Hostility to surrogacy is not another relic of a Judeo-Christian past, but is led today by feminist voices and a diverse network of nontraditional allies. In fact, the European Court of Human Rights just ruled that its member nations need not embrace surrogacy, noting its potential link with human trafficking. And the European Parliament recently declared it a form of violence against women. Commercial surrogacy arrangements are banned in Canada and some U.S. states as well.

The developing world, where many have traveled looking for surrogates, is also taking measures to protect its citizens from exploitation at the hands of the international surrogacy industry. Limitations on surrogacy continue to emerge because of the troubling stories that appear regularly in the media, from abuses by brokers and fertility clinics, to women locked away for months under supervision while they gestate the “product” for consumption by wealthy consumers. And, as noted in the article, when the child is considered “defective,” those involved in surrogacy arrangements want a way to get rid of him or her, which strikes most as abhorrent.

Because of 1xbet the increasing lack of availability of surrogates globally, people are turning more to states like Minnesota, where the lucrative nature of commercial surrogacy is driving surrogacy brokers, lawyers and the fertility industry to push for legal frameworks in state legislatures that will allow their business to grow.

Brokers propose legislation that, offered under the guise of protecting the surrogate, is really a measure meant to ensure that these very expensive arrangements, costing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, are enforced by courts — something courts have no duty to do here in Minnesota, in part because of the arrangements’ coercive nature, which threatens the surrogate mother with financial hardship or ruin if she does not comply.

For instance, the legislation cited in the Jan. 29 article, including the bill vetoed by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty, were all industry-sponsored bills that prioritize the protection of the industry’s bottom line, not the well-being of women and children. It is in this context that the Minnesota Catholic Conference and others have pushed back, arguing that creating a commercial surrogacy market in Minnesota is not a responsible policy choice, especially when that market is global in scope (the goal of brokers and the fertility industry). It allows children to be taken anywhere in the world where they will not necessarily have access to their medical records, and are not guaranteed the protections of the laws and Constitution of the United States.

Rather than continuing a legislative stalemate around this contentious issue, those of us concerned with protecting women and children decided on a different route, creating a bipartisan legislative commission where the relevant issues could be aired and everyone could have their say. The official commission report lays out many common-sense recommendations that were supported by the testimony and the practice of industry professionals themselves. It specifically allows for altruistic surrogacy arrangements (like the story depicted in the article) in which reasonable expenses are paid, and even asks the full Legislature to consider whether some minimal compensation should be allowed.

Together, the commission’s recommendations represent a reasonable middle ground that would create a regulatory framework that pushes back on a regime of baby-selling and protects all parties involved — intended parents, children, and women. Industry players argue that these safeguards are not needed in the U.S., where professionals comply with best practices. Some do, but others, as we have seen, do not. Laws are made to address the worst-case scenarios, not the best ones.

In its surrogacy-related advocacy, the church is not interested in finger-wagging moralizing, taking satisfaction in perpetuating others’ misery. She walks with and shares in the pain that infertile couples experience, pointing them toward spiritual and medical resources to help them either conceive or embrace a new direction, such as adoption or spiritual parenthood.

But not every path to family formation is just or serves the well-being of children and society. We cannot address the pain of infertility through the creation of public policies that lead to the exploitation of vulnerable women and do not consider the best interests of the child. Women are not for rent, and children are not for sale.


Jason Adkins is executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference.

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