Death Of Idaho Surrogate And Twins Barely Reported
Among the few paying attention to the hazards of the surrogacy industry is Jennifer Lahl, President of the Center for Bioethics and Culture. Last week an Idaho woman named Brooke, who has served as a surrogate three times, according to reports, died carrying twins, reportedly for a Spanish couple. Responding to this tragedy, Lahl denounced the practice of surrogacy and the harms it presents to surrogates and the children they bear.
Lahl asserts that Congressional hearings are urgently needed to investigate what she describes as the exploding U.S. baby-farming business. “American women are being paid to put themselves at significant physical risk every day in this country to produce babies for others,” she said. She believes surrogacy should be outlawed in the U.S. “These mostly low income women are injected with powerful hormones and other drugs to maximize chances of pregnancy, virtually without government oversight. Women didn’t get this far to be treated like breeding animals.”
Currently surrogate pregnancy is illegal in Spain and other European countries. The European Parliament called surrogacy and egg sales an “extreme form of exploitation of women” in an official resolution. But in the U.S. the already booming baby-farming business is exploding following the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, as married same-sex couples look to have families. Celebrities and wealthy American women are also increasingly using surrogates to carry their own children, not by necessity, but for vanity — to avoid the body changes that come with pregnancy. A recent Time Magazine article, reflecting this trend, listed pregnancy as one of the “Top Ten Chores to Outsource” in America.
Lahl is also deeply concerned with how little focus is placed on the children created via assisted reproductive technologies and contract pregnancies and on the women needed to supply eggs and wombs. She was a pediatric nurse for over two decades. In that field, Lahl says that a priority is given to the maternal-child bond. “The most natural environment for the child, his or her mother’s womb, is of utmost importance to the child’s physical and emotional development and the over-all well-being of a child. With each year, we learn more about the womb and about the life-long connection between the birth mother and child.”
In her book “The Primal Wound”, psychologist Nancy Verrier describes how mothers are biologically, hormonally and emotionally programmed to bond with their babies at birth and in utero. It has been proven over and over again that the baby knows that mother at birth, and that both the mother and the baby will experience grief at any separation at the time of birth; this primal wound is forever present.
The whole new field of epigenetics proves that this nine-month time in the womb plays an important part in the child’s later health, sense of identity, and connection. Annie Murphy Paul’s new book, “Origins: How the Nine Months before Birth Shape the Rest of our Lives”, addresses maternal programming and the lasting impact the intrauterine environment has on the child. This flies in the face of Hollywood’s attempt to gloss over complex realities with simplistic explanations that refer to a woman’s womb as an “easy-bake oven” and children of surrogates as “cupcakes.”
“Surrogacy intentionally sets up a negative environment. Instead of encouraging women to bond with their child in utero for the benefit of both mother and child, surrogacy demands that she not bond with this child.” says Lahl. “I have interviewed many women who were surrogates who very much regret their decision. Surrogacy is harmful to both the woman who carries the child and to the child she carries.”
“I never thought I’d see the day when women were being openly marketed for their uteri,” Lahl said. “Members of Congress profess to care about women’s needs. Well, let’s see if they mean it.”