Archdiocese of Washington on proposed surrogacy legislation in DC
“The consequences of passing this legislation would result in widespread disregard of the dignity of women and children.”
June 20, 2013
The Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety of the District of Columbia City Council held a public hearing Thursday on proposed legislation that would legalize surrogacy agreements in the nation’s capital. A surrogacy agreement is the practice whereby a woman carries a pregnancy, often resulting from in vitro fertilization in a laboratory, with a pledge to surrender the child once it is born to the party who commissioned or made the agreement for the pregnancy. Christa Lopiccolo, Executive Director of the Department of Life Issues for the Archdiocese of Washington will submit written testimony against the proposed legislation.
Catholic teaching, as set out in Donum Vitae (1987), is clear: surrogacy parenting “is contrary to the unity of marriage and to the dignity of the procreation of the human person.” Such commercialization of pregnancy not only compromises the dignity of the mother by treating her as merely a womb for hire, “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.”
The intentions of those involved in surrogacy agreements may be good, and the individuals themselves may be very generous and loving people, Lopiccolo said, but the means used would “undermine the goodness of the intent.” Speaking from the perspective of Catholic teaching, Lopiccolo added, “The very nature of the child as a human person demands that his/her dignity be respected from the very beginning – a dignity that is equal to his/her parents, not subservient. Human beings, made in the image and likeness of God, have an inviolable dignity and eternal destiny. Flowing from this infinite dignity, every child has a right to be conceived from an act of love – an act which bespeaks mutual self-giving and equality.”
Surrogacy, therefore, Lopiccolo said, establishes a relationship of domination and objectification – “…the domination of technology and scientific manipulation over human life, the domination of the parents over the child, and the domination of the state and the market over individual persons. Thus, the child begins as one whose dignity is unequal, whose life is bought, traded and commodified as yet another good to be acquired.”
With the many inconveniences and risks surrounding surrogacy, monetary compensation becomes a significant factor that puts poor and low-income women at substantial risk of further exploitation and abuse. The Archdiocese of Washington encourages the D.C. City Council to consider the dangerous impact this proposed legislation would have upon the dignity, health, safety and lives of women, particularly the surrogates, and also the surrogates’ children.
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics at 139 parishes in Washington, DC, and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.
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