Earlier this week, Pope Francis said a full global ban should be put in place on “so-called surrogate motherhood,” which many celebrity and wealthy couples have embraced in recent years.
There are two main types of surrogacy.
Gestational is the most common type. In this, an embryo gets fertilized in a lab, and then is implanted into the uterus of a surrogate.
Because of the way it is done, the surrogate doesn’t have any biological claim on the baby. When the baby is born, the legal parents are given the baby.
The traditional way of surrogacy has become much less common nowadays. In large part, that’s because embryo has a direct biological tie to the surrogate — even though they will sign a legal document that’s binding that relinquishes their rights to the child.
There are many ethical concerns to traditional surrogacy, though, and they have led to multiple countries putting bans on the practice in place. Some U.S. states even ban the practice as well.
Despite gestational surrogacy rising in popularity in recent years, the Pope doesn’t believe it should be allowed.
On Monday, he gave his annual “state of the world” address to diplomats who are accredited by the Vatican. During the speech, he expressed how much he doesn’t approve of the practice.
He said, in part:
“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.
“Consequently, I express my hope for an effort by the international community to prohibit this practice universally.”
The Catholic Church has long opposed unnatural means of conception. It typically opposes the usage of contraception, and it is against some fertility practices such as IVF — where an embryo is fertilized in a lab then implanted back into the mother’s uterus.
Building on his initial comments, Pope Francis said that all children are gifts and “never the basis of a commercial contract.” In the past, the Pope has called surrogacy “uterus for rent.”
Despite these comments on surrogacy, the Pope recently took some action that would seem to be in opposition to these viewpoints.
In December, he authorized officials in the Catholic Church to bless same-sex marriages.
While these couples are now welcomed in the Catholic Church, the only way that they can have biological children is through surrogacy. The doctrine office at the Vatican has also said that same-sex couples who end up doing surrogacy can have their children baptized in a Catholic Church.
Women who wait longer to have children or women who have medical issues could be forced to choose surrogacy to have a baby.
But, the Pope’s comments seem to be focused on those who turn to surrogacy for no other reason than to not have to carry the child. This is what a lot of wealthy celebrities end up doing, as they have the money to pay someone else to carry their baby for them.