Last week it was my turn to write the argomento for one of the Italian classes. My topic was commercial surrogacy. I can understand the desire and hunger to have babies - from my own experience, having lost babies, and having feared that I would be unable to bring a baby to term. However I do feel profoundly uneasy about commercial surrogacy. To me it reeks of slavery, of buying, selling and owning another human being. To me it is anathema. I think that the USA's history of slavery may have left a residual, perhaps unconscious feeling that human beings can be owned and traded. Certainly the concept of racial superiority was deeply embedded.
While at university I studied American history. One part of the syllabus was the civil rights of African Americans, and the struggle against segregation and for voting rights was long, hard fought, difficult and often bitter. Many died in that struggle. Legal reasoning had to change.
Our Italian class debated the issue vigorously. The next day the newspapers reported the story of a Thai woman who carried and gave birth to the biogical children of an Australian couple. She was found to be be carrying twins, and the male was found to be afflicted with Downs Syndrome, and also had a heart defect. The biological parents wanted the boy to be aborted, the surrogate mother refused. The parents accepted the baby girl, but refused the boy. The surrogate has kept the boy.
This story has aroused much controversy, both in Australia and in Thailand. The surrogate is about 21 and has two children of her own, aged six and three. The family is poor. Many people, having read this tragic story, have donated money for this family, and for the baby boy. There are varying reports of the story, and there are disputed and contradictory reports. But it makes my blood run cold.
How can it be that people are so desperate to have a child that they enter into a surrogacy contract, and then urge abortion, and reject their defective offspring? It is wrong. It seems to me to resemble thae way racehorses are bred.
I hope that some good may come out of this case, not only for the baby, the surrogate mother, the other members of her family, but also for the purchasing parents and the chosen baby.