Is Surrogate Motherhood Moral?

Author:Pyton, Elizabeth

In October 1987, Pat Anthony gave birth to triplets. The infants, however, were not her children but actually her grandchildren. Nine months before, Pat Anthony agreed to serve as a surrogate mother for her own daughter's biological infants. Anthony was implanted with four embryos resulting from ova produced by her daughter and fertilized in vitro with her son-in-law's sperm. The reaction of doctors to this story ranged from astonishment to repugnance.

Surrogate motherhood and related birth technologies have continued to pose legal and ethical dilemmas. In 1989, a Progressive headline read: "Man Files Test Tube Embryo Suit"--a Tennessean divorcing his wife went to court to stop her from becoming pregnant with fertilized eggs they as a couple had put in frozen storage.

Another situation arose ten years later in Staten Island, New York. A couple announced that it would give one of its infant twin boys to a New Jersey couple because the doctor who performed the in vitro fertilization had mistakenly mingled the couples' embryos. The second boy is the biological child of the second couple, yet looks exactly like the child of the first couple.

Andrew Vorzimer, a Beverly Hills, California, lawyer, has heard of a lot of stories of unusual situations. But even he was taken aback by a client whose wife was left unconscious after a car crash; the husband said that her eggs should be "donated" in order to produce their genetic children. The hospital to which she was admitted refused the offer.

In San Francisco, California, a husband and wife used an egg donor to have a child. They then donated twelve leftover frozen embryos to Kathryn Finwall, a corporate audit manager, who then produced a child. Now Finwall and her child want to donate the remaining embryos to another infertile couple, but they are finding resistance from clinics.

In another city, a couple lined up two donors and produced twins, with each child having a different genetic mom. The donors visit for holiday dinners.

Stories of positive and negative outcomes in surrogate parenting can leave some people aroused with negative emotions--ranging from distaste to revulsion--while others would say that there is nothing wrong, in principle, with surrogate parenthood. Dictionaries define surrogate as a substitute for some third person--which in this case could be an infertile mother, father, or the missing mother or father in a same-sex relationship. The usual practice of surrogate motherhood...

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