I’m hoping you’ll have an opinion, and I’m hoping we might have a conversation.
Background: surrogate mothers are women paid to have a baby for a client. You mix the egg and sperm in the surrogate’s womb, and once they birth the child they give it to the client.
There was a story on Radiolab about two gay Israeli guys who paid buckets of money to a female egg donor in Eastern Europe and two female Nepalese surrogates living in India. Two twins and one single later: they are fathers.
First thought: humans are innovators.
Second thought: Let’s talk about some stuff: the gift of life to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to have children. Now let’s talk about genetic engineering. What about adoption? And just because we can do something, should we? Then greed. Human trafficking, vanity, classism, detachment, violence, babies, citizenship, a woman’s right to her own body, everyone else’s right to a woman’s own body, and love.
Here I am, another man talking about a woman’s body again. Bear with me, these are thoughts from my brain.
Surrogacy is now illegal in countries like India and Nepal (and a ton of others), and continues to thrive in the United States. Google “Surrogate Mother” and you’ll get a ton of sites telling you how to become a surrogate mother. (And Kim Kardashian’s surrogate who Kim didn’t even invite to the baby shower! Shade.) Here’s why you make something legal: you can regulate it! And ensure that it’s done safely. People are going to find surrogates anyway, why make them have to use the back alley surrogates?
I don’t like that way of thinking because it’s moral submission. It’s giving up. You’re saying, “It’s gonna happen, let’s tax it!” Name any controversial topic, and we’re doing that. Immigration. Drugs. Abortion. I’m not getting into those right now! OK fine! The wall is insane, weed isn’t hurting anyone and abortion sure seems to be. There. But we’re talkin’ bout’ SURROGATES! The Bruce Willis sci-fi movie! Don’t watch it!
I don’t think this is a gay or straight issue. This is a using-other-humans-as-farms issue. One of the things that I imagine must be difficult about being gay is not being able to have children. Which brings me to my next point: adoption.
Why would people who are trying to gain a child not adopt one of the many, many children around the world who need to be adopted? The answer in the Radiolab example was that these two men had tried to adopt, but, it’s very difficult and expensive to adopt a child if you are gay. That’s a fact. This begs another question! Is adopting as a gay couple more difficult than finding an egg donor from another continent, a surrogate from another country, moving that surrogate to a different country, and paying all the people along the way? I would say probably not. But then again I’ve never tried. (Single straight guy.)
The questions I’ve had to face usually are more focused on things like, will this food make me fart. (No matter what: yes) Back to the sensitive stuff!
These Israeli guys sound like genuinely great men. They wanted to make sure the money they spent on the surrogates went to the surrogates. They found an organization that told them $12,000 was going to the women. (In the US, women receive $30-70K, total cost for the client can range from $100L-250K) Shocker: after tracking the money to the women, it turned out they received thousands less. A lot of it went to people along the way—middlemen. But! Even the money they did receive could help them. And what does it matter to me, or us? It’s their body, and they should be able to use it the way they want. Right?
You’re talking about a human being. Prostitution is illegal everywhere in the US except eight counties in Nevada, because you (or someone else) are literally renting your body to another person. Surrogates are doing the same thing: they are renting the real estate of their womb to a little tenant for nine months. They are growing children who are taken away the second they are born. This is some science fiction shit, man! This is that Brave New World! The Matrix!
Morpheus: There are fields—endless fields where humans are no longer born; we are grown.
A weird thing: when women donate their eggs, we say that their eggs are harvested. Is there a farming term more farming than harvest? No. No there is not. I’m gonna grab my overalls, jump in my tractor, and harvest eggs. In order to choose the eggs that you want to mix with your sperm and put in another lady, you get to view pictures and profiles of these women. Height. Weight. Hair color. Skin color. Same thing with male sperm donors. You get to pick out, or engineer, the attributes that your child will have.
Yes, guys can be used, too. Men are donating sperm to lesbian couples who are picking Harvard athletes. There’s the story of the law student sperm donor named Ben Seisler, who, besides letting someone publish a story using his real name about being a sperm donor, is also the father of over seventy kids. All those kids! Now I’m gonna flip this immediately—what about the Bible? What about David, who is like the GOAT Old Testament King of the Jewish people—he had a ton of wives and a bunch of kids with those wives. How is that different? *Head explodes* Less technology for one…
The last thing is the question we never ask because we don’t ever want the answer.
Is it good for the child?
It’s what I want.
I want a baby who looks like me.
I want money in exchange for using my body—it’s just like having a job, after all.
I don’t want the damage to my body—someone else can carry this.
What happens when the baby is born and says, hey ah…how the hell did I get here?
Talk to me. I’m trying to be a good progressive man and I’m also trying to challenge all of you who subscribe to Progressive Person Weekly, the publication that tells you what’s okay and what’s definitely not okay. What did I miss?
Bart Tocci (’11) lives in Boston where he writes essays, performs at open mics, and threatens to start taco restaurants. He’s been told that he looks like the kind of guy who stands up for what’s right. And who goes to the store before the party. Read more here: barttocci.wordpress.com