1810 All Over Again
Recently, I saw a news story regarding the Actress, Anna Kendrick, and her relationship struggles. She provided the following quote to People magazine, “I was with someone — this was somebody I lived with, for all intents and purposes my husband. We had embryos together, this was my person (1).” Ms. Kendrick then goes on to discuss the relationship falling apart after six years. The chronology is a little unclear, but it implies that the embryos were created before the 6-year period. That got me to thinking, what is it about in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and Hollywood? It doesn’t take long to scratch below the surface and see that IVF is all the rage in Tinseltown, as described in US magazine, featuring a long list of various B and C-list celebrities who have frozen eggs and/or embryos for future use (2). Going deeper, it gets more interesting. In the same article, popular singer Ricky Martin, who is in a same-sex relationship, is quoted as saying, “Some people think I’m crazy, but I love a big family and I have a couple of embryos waiting for me,” the “Livin’ la Vida Loca” singer told Entertainment Tonight in November 2020 after welcoming Matteo, Martin, Lucia and Renn with husband Jwan Yosef (2).
We have previously discussed the disturbing issues around frozen embryos (aka, children, human beings, etc.) and the crime against humanity created by the cold storage of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of unborn children in a secular hell, denied both the pleasures of life and the joy of heavenly eternity (3). These unfortunate souls become the subject of custody disputes and property dissolution, like any other asset in a divorce. Recall that we discussed the case of Mrs. Christine Chiu, Bling Empire “star” who had undergone IVF, created three children, implanted one, and discarded (killed) the other two. She subsequently was reconsidering doing IVF again, but carrying the child via surrogate, as her pregnancy was “difficult.” It is not specified as to what the “difficulty” was, but, earlier in the series, it was revealed that the Chiu’s fertility issues were with her husband (as they are 40-50% of the time (4)). As that was the case, it would be unusual for Mrs. Chiu to also have dangerous pregnancy issues or be unable to bring a child to term, and indeed, she did so with her first child. So, why a surrogate the second time? Pregnancies can be difficult and there are numerous inconveniences, discomforts and risks associated with normal gestations. My own wife was hospitalized for management of hyperemesis gravidarum, that is, morning sickness, with all of her pregnancies. This is obviously a very unpleasant condition. For those of you uninitiated, I liken it to riding twirling amusement park rides all day with your kids and then crawling to your car, holding on to the grass to keep from falling off the Earth. Is that reason enough to use a gestational surrogate?
California is a funny place in a lot of ways. At a governmental level, it seems to forbid very little. Certainly, it seems to be competing with New York to be the abortion capital of the US. Governor Gavin Newsom continues to shock the conscience with ever more outrageous anti-life initiatives, including billboards in other states, welcoming women to come to California and kill their unborn children when local laws do not permit it. Drug use is rampant and recreational marijuana is widespread. (As an aside, can the smokers out there please switch to gummies, or something edible? The smell of the smoke is simply offensive to everyone in a 2-mile radius, except, perhaps, fellow stoners.) Shoplifting is ignored and downtown Los Angeles resembles Calcutta more than one of America’s greatest cities. Of course, California is also the epicenter of the LBGT/trans movement, and one cannot drive far before seeing billboards of men, women and other unidentifiable people in various sexual situations. Unsurprisingly, California is also the nation’s (and perhaps the world’s) center for gestational surrogacy.
I suppose that makes sense. If you are a Hollywood star, model, “influencer,” or reality TV celebrity, a pregnancy may be “inconvenient.” Why not just purchase a surrogate to carry the child to term and, thus, avoid all that nasty vomiting, not to mention stretch marks and back pain? That way, you too can have the latest fashion accessory, a child in a Louis Vuitton romper, or Gucci stroller, and just hand it off to the nanny after the photographers leave. When the child gets older, there are always boarding schools. (Divorce and breakups are pretty easy in Hollywood, warehousing a child that has gone out of fashion is a little harder.)
Social surrogacy is trending in California and increasing in use. Social surrogacy is when a couple (or individual) purchases the services of a surrogate woman to bring their child to term in the circumstance wherein the couple has no medical or psychological reasons that prevent the female member of the couple from carrying a pregnancy to term. In simpler terms, a couple creates a child (embryo) through IVF and then hires a surrogate to be implanted with the embryo and carry the child through to term. The surrogate enters into a contractual arrangement with the couple and renounces any parental rights to the child. The surrogate is paid for her services and this is all usually coordinated through an agency or fertility clinic.
Curiously, San Diego is sort of a hot spot for the social surrogacy industry (I know, I would have thought Beverly Hills). This is from a website from an agency named Conceptual Options:
“Many jobs place women of power straight in the public eye, in cases where pregnancy could make or break the result or success of their career… After all, a loss of business revenue and/or loss of a career could quickly result in financial insecurity… Some of these women have worked too hard for too long to sacrifice their positions in the career world. They cannot afford to be pregnant. Literally.
The possibility of a life-altering medical issue or body disfigurement during pregnancy can provoke many worries among these women. What if they lose their jobs due to a difficult pregnancy? What if they lose business or status in their successful companies due to an unforeseen medical issue with their pregnancy? Social surrogacy is a solution for so many women…(5)”
It’s a pretty good business too. Conceptual Options offers Silver, Gold and Platinum packages with various options, including surrogate fees, agency fees, travel, insurance, etc. The list is pretty extensive (6). It takes a while to add up all the fees, but ballpark, to hire a surrogate and bring a child to term is around $200,000. This does not include the cost of IVF and embryo creation, which can run $50,000, or more, depending on options and accessories (sort of like pricing out a new car (7.)) Some fertility treatment may be covered, in part, by health insurance, but most of this is out-of-pocket, particularly in the case of social surrogates and purchasing children as a fashion accessory (when you are tired of carrying a tiny, yappy dog in a custom Fendi bag).
The United States is an outlier when it comes to surrogacy. In most of the world, surrogacy is either illegal or tightly regulated. Even in the rest of the US, surrogacy has controls as to the profitability of the procedure. California, however, is the wild west of surrogacy and has virtually no restrictions on the surrogates, agencies or providers. Bizarrely, California is the center for reverse medical tourism. People come from China and Europe to circumvent their laws against surrogacy, and can “purchase” a child without the hassles of pregnancy in the USA. (When you are on the opposite of China on a moral issue, you need to really reevaluate your morality, and probably take a shower.) To quote Dr. Vicken Sahakian, of the Los Angeles’ Pacific Fertility Center, a glamorous facility on Wilshire Boulevard, “Money talks. If you have money, you’re going to have a baby… I believe in this type of science. I believe in family balancing, gender selection, selecting out abnormal embryos, using egg donors, sperm donors, this is what I do. I love what I do (8).” (I think Dr. Joseph Mengele also loved his work and also did a lot of “selecting” when the trains arrived at Auschwitz.) Commenting on social surrogacy, Sahakian said, “I don’t have issues with it. If you’re a 28-year-old model or an actor and you get pregnant, you’re going to lose your job – you will. If you want to use a surrogate, I’ll help you (8).” Sahakian is pretty loquacious, he goes on, “The women looking for social surrogacy tend not to be the biggest celebrities. Hollywood stars have the leverage to call the shots when it comes to schedules, and can have more confidence that their careers will be waiting for them after they have a baby. The typical candidates are models and actors who are doing well but haven’t yet made their name. They tell me point blank, ‘If I get pregnant, I will lose my part. I work, I don’t have time because of work. I model, I act, I look good like this and I don’t want to disfigure my body (8).'”
Obviously, people purchasing surrogate services are wealthy, with all of the socioeconomic characteristics of wealth, that is, education, health, comfort, leisure, etc. The surrogate mothers, on the other hand, tend to be lower to middle-income, less educated (less than one-third have gone to college), younger and have previously carried at least one child to term (9). Given San Diego’s proximity to the Southern Border, is it perhaps less curious that San Diego is the center of the US surrogacy industry? In true sweat-shop tradition, the surrogates get about $30,000 for their 9 months effort (10).
The fertility clinic and surrogacy websites are awash in their justifications for social surrogacy and, in particular, surrogacy for gay couples and even single people. A strange dichotomy, on one hand, California is the Mecca for IVF, surrogacy and all things artificial as far as reproduction and pregnancy; on the other, it is the leader in the abortion industry, celebrating itself as a “sanctuary” for the murder of unborn children. Although, on further reflection, perhaps it is not so strange. If unborn children are not human (at least in the eyes of California), then they are an accessory, to be bought, sold, traded and discarded at will. Sort of like a decorative vase or other Homegoods tchotchke.
It would be nice if Gavin Newsom and California would at least give unborn children the same deference they give to pets and animals. In September of 2022, Governor Newsom signed a host of bills to make California the leader in animal welfare, including banning medical toxicology testing on dogs and cats, facilitating emotional support dog certification for homeless individuals and mandating that animal kennel owners create a natural disaster evacuation plan as one of the conditions for obtaining a kennel license or permit, among many others (11). As the Governor’s website states, “Since taking office, Governor Newsom has signed several measures to end the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in California, ban the sale of new fur products, prohibit the use of animals like elephants and bears in circus acts, ban hunting, trapping or killing bobcats, and require shelters to microchip all reclaimed or adopted cats and dogs (11). So, if I understand this properly, because of “my body, my choice,” “bodily autonomy,” “reproductive health care,” “medical privacy,” and whatever else is one’s favorite euphemism for the killing of unborn human life, California celebrates being the national abortion center, while animal welfare statutes permit the state to arrest and prosecute someone for selling rabbits and putting on circus acts. I guess privacy and autonomy only apply when killing humans, rather than making cats uncomfortable.
My friends, if you do not find this offensive, you must be asleep. After the Revolutionary War, the population of slaves in the US greatly expanded. Even though the transatlantic slave trade ended in 1808, the Southern slave population increased from about 1.1 million in 1810 to nearly 4 million in 1860 (12). (Ring any bells in this bloodlust for abortion post-Dobbs?) One would have thought that, after the Civil War, one of the bloodiest conflicts in history with the greatest loss of life sustained by US citizens in any war, before or since (13), we would have settled the idea that humans are not property. Apparently not. Perhaps that is the need of the pro-abortion lobby, to deny the humanity of unborn human life. If something is a decorative accessory, or property, rather than a person, it is so much easier to throw “it” away when something new comes into fashion.
Children are not fashion accessories and they are not entitlements. Just because someone “wants” a child, for whatever reason, they should not be able to circumvent nature and obtain a child. As Christians, we have love and empathy for LGBT/trans people, as they are children of God and our friends, relatives and neighbors, but we should not condone or facilitate their sinful lifestyle and, certainly, their ability to have children through IVF, surrogacy or other means, is an abomination. Similarly, undergoing IVF and then purchasing a surrogate to carry the child to term, because of a fear of stretchmarks, or derailing a second-rate acting career is abhorrent. As we have previously discussed, IVF, even for infertile couples, is a sin. One of the privileges of womanhood is the feeling of one’s own child, moving and kicking in her abdomen. It is a special gift that no man will ever experience and many women are unable to experience. Flesh from flesh and blood from blood forms the unbreakable and eternal bond between a mother and child. Childbearing is hard and childrearing is hard. Without that bond, I suspect raising a child is even harder and thus, we give great honor to adoptive parents. Is it any wonder, however, that when parents see children as an accessory, rather than the spiritual gift they are, abuse and neglect are common? Children of same-sex couples are far more likely to become homosexual themselves and are far more likely to experience parental molestation than children of heterosexual couples (14). Recently there was a tremendous tabloid outcry when the activist gay male parents of two adopted children (one in third grade and the other in fourth grade) were found to be molesting, making pornographic videos and prostituting them out to a ring of pedophiles in an affluent suburb of Atlanta (15). Frankly, I am surprised that anyone was surprised. This is what comes of “everyone who wants a child, should have a child.”
As it always is, the Catholic position on this question is direct, simple and true. Children are a special gift from God, given to a man and woman, in sexual consort within a marriage. From the moment of conception to natural death, they are unique and worthy persons, created in the image and likeness of God. Children are neither property, nor accessories, and creating them in a laboratory and paying a woman to carry their pregnancy, for whatever reason, but especially out of convenience or vanity, is a grave moral evil. Even in a purely secular context, artificial reproduction and surrogate pregnancy treat people as chattel and property, leading to horrendous problems when, inevitably, these superficial relationships fall apart. IVF should be illegal. Embryo creation and storage should be illegal. Gestational surrogacy, particularly social surrogacy, should be illegal, as it is in most of the civilized world.
I was in Los Angeles for about a week just after the first of the year. There was a remarkable amount of rain and street flooding, very uncharacteristic to the area, the entire week. I found myself remembering that, after the Great Flood, the Lord made a covenant that he would never flood the world again. As said to Noah, “Thus shall I establish My covenant with you; Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth” (Genesis 9:11).
How about just California?
- Kumar N, Singh AK. Trends of male factor infertility, an important cause of infertility: A review of literature. J Hum Reprod Sci. 2015 Oct-Dec;8(4):191-6. doi: 10.4103/0974-1208.170370. PMID: 26752853; PMCID: PMC4691969.
- Paul Cameron, Kirk M. Cameron & Kay Proctor (2017) Children of Homosexuals More Apt to Become Homosexual and Experience Parental Molestation: Surveys Over Three Decades, Marriage & Family Review, 53:5, 429-433, DOI: 1080/01494929.2017.1279942