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In a compelling address to diplomats earlier this week, Pope Francis called for a sweeping global prohibition on surrogacy, condemning the controversial practice as a severe infringement upon the dignity of women and children alike.

The Pope expressed his profound disapproval of what he termed “so-called surrogate motherhood,” characterizing it as a lamentable exploitation of vulnerable women in precarious material circumstances.

During his impassioned speech, Pope Francis underscored the gravity of the matter, declaring, “I deem deplorable the practice of so-called surrogate motherhood, which represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother’s material needs.”

Pope Francis did not mince words in his condemnation of surrogacy, asserting that the process transforms a child into nothing more than an “object of trafficking.”

This stark characterization serves as a poignant reminder of the potentially dire consequences associated with surrogacy arrangements, particularly when viewed through the lens of the exploitation of women in vulnerable circumstances.

The Pope fervently argued that a child should always be regarded as a precious gift and should never be commodified within the framework of a commercial contract.

In the Philippines, the legal and moral intricacies surrounding surrogacy have been the subject of considerable debate and scrutiny.

Legal framework. Our country lacks comprehensive legislation explicitly addressing surrogacy. This legal vacuum has given rise to ambiguity and inconsistency in the treatment of surrogacy arrangements. While the lack of specific laws allows some flexibility, it also leaves many legal uncertainties for all parties involved.

One key legal consideration is the determination of parental rights. In the absence of specific surrogacy laws, the legal status of the child and the rights of the surrogate and intended parents are often unclear. Courts may rely on existing family laws, adoption laws, or other related statutes to adjudicate surrogacy disputes.

Moral and cultural perspectives. The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, and the influence of religious and cultural norms significantly shapes public opinion on surrogacy. Many Filipinos view surrogacy through a moral lens, with concerns often centered around traditional family values, the sanctity of life, and the potential exploitation of women.

The ethical dimensions of surrogacy are a subject of ongoing discourse. Some argue that surrogacy can provide a means for infertile couples or those with fertility issues to realize their dream of having a family.

Others, however, express concerns about the potential for exploitation of surrogate mothers, the commodification of childbirth, and the risk of emotional and psychological harm to all parties involved.

International Practices and Trends. In the absence of clear domestic regulations, some Filipinos have sought surrogacy services abroad. Countries with well-established surrogacy laws, such as the United States and some European nations, have become popular destinations for Filipinos seeking surrogacy arrangements.

However, engaging in international surrogacy can bring about additional legal challenges, including the recognition of parental rights and citizenship issues for the child born through surrogacy.

It is crucial for those considering international surrogacy to thoroughly research the laws of both the host country and the Philippines to avoid legal complications upon returning home.

 

The gift of life

As the global community grapples with evolving perspectives on reproductive technologies, Pope Francis’s impassioned call for a worldwide ban on surrogacy adds a moral dimension to an already intricate debate.

While I do not wish to judge those who agree with this practice or those doing it, I believe it is wrong for the simple reason that it is very much like prostitution.

Here are the connections I have drawn between surrogacy and prostitution:

Commodification of the Body. Both surrogacy and prostitution involve the commodification of the human body. In surrogacy, a woman’s reproductive capacity becomes a marketable resource, akin to how a sex worker’s body is commodified in the context of prostitution. This commodification may raise concerns about reducing the intrinsic value of a person to their physical capabilities.

Exploitation of Vulnerable Individuals. Both surrogacy and prostitution exploit vulnerable individuals, particularly those in lower socioeconomic situations. In surrogacy, impoverished women are motivated by financial incentives to become surrogate mothers, potentially exposing them to exploitation. Similarly, individuals engaged in prostitution face economic hardships that drive them towards the industry, leading to concerns about exploitation.

Power Dynamics and Agency. The power dynamics in surrogacy and prostitution can be perceived as imbalanced. In both cases, there is a risk that those with more resources (intended parents or clients) may hold significant power over those with fewer resources (surrogate mothers or sex workers), potentially compromising the agency and autonomy of the latter group.

Commercialization of Intimate Processes. Both surrogacy and prostitution involve the commercialization of deeply intimate processes. In surrogacy, the process of carrying and delivering a child is commodified, while in prostitution, intimate acts are commercialized. I strongly believe that this commercialization can lead to a dehumanization of personal and private aspects of life.

Risk of Exploitative Practices. There is huge potential for exploitative practices within the surrogacy industry, such as inadequate compensation, lack of legal protections, and limited medical support for surrogate mothers. These issues parallel the risks associated with exploitative practices in the realm of prostitution.

While drawing parallels between surrogacy and prostitution oversimplifies the complexities of both issues and may not fully capture the diverse experiences within each practice, I still believe it is wrong.

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Author’s email: wea_129@yahoo.com

 

 

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