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Our readers asked:

Does the Catholic Church support the use of a surrogate mother to have a child?

Charles C. Camosy, PhD Answers:

The Catholic Church is pro-life, and this not only means “not killing” and “actively supporting” life, but it also means being open to new life as well. The Church therefore obviously wants to support the desire of married couples to be parents, but to do so in a way that is in line with God’s intention for how flourishing children come into the world. Thus all technologies which are designed to aid the mechanisms God has given us for procreation are perfectly acceptable, according to the Church. Women and men can take drugs or have surgeries to improve their fertility or their sexual capabilities, for instance.

However, the Church wants to push back against our culture’s understanding that children can be created with technology and distributed via a market. Children are to come as a gift from God via a sexual relationship — instead of being procured as a product or thing. Any reproductive procedure that involves something other than aiding sex and pregnancy within the context of a married couple permanently committed to being the parents of this child together is something the Church insists misses the mark. This includes everything from creating a child in a laboratory to the use of another person as a surrogate to carry the child through pregnancy. The fact that some of us will not be able to be biological parents is a painful one, but the Church claims this is one of the hard truths that we must endure if we believe that children are gifts with their own inherent dignity — rather than things we have the right to purchase on the open market.

 
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The Author : Charles C. Camosy, PhD
Charlie Camosy is assistant professor of Christian ethics at Fordham University where he has been since finishing his Ph.D. in theology at Notre Dame in 2008. His book Too Expensive to Treat? Finitude, Tragedy, and the Neonatal ICU (Eerdmans, 2010) was honored at the 2011 Catholic Media Association awards. Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond Polarization was released with Cambridge University Press in May of 2012. Charlie is also the founder and co-director of the Catholic Conversation Project and a member of the ethics committee at the Children's Hospital of New York.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Michael

    Mary Raised carried Jesus in the womb, gave birth, and raised him. Although Jesus is the son of God, we are all essentially children of God. We do not conceive the baby God does. Just because it is a different ‘type’ of miracle doesn’t mean that God doesn’t perform these same kinds of miracles every day.

  • Steve

    Surrogacy is very different from what happened with Our Lady and Jesus. In a typical surrogacy, embryos are created using sperm and eggs from the parents who will be raising the child. Those embryos are cultivated in a lab; a viable embryo is selected and implanted in the uterus of another woman and the others are either frozen indefinitely or destroyed. The second woman carries the baby to term and then gives the baby to the couple who donated the sperm/eggs.

    Mary was the biological mother of Jesus, who was conceived miraculously by the power of the Holy Spirit. In that sense, Jesus was raised by his biological mother and his adoptive father, Joseph.

    The Incarnation truly is wonderful!

  • Katie

    Actually Mary was a traditional surrogate meaning she is the biological mother

  • Bethany

    I wasn’t adopted, but I was only asking because I would like the opportunity to in the future if I can’t naturally conceive.

  • Conrad

    Stephanie, Mary did not carry and give birth to Jesus for another woman, that would be surrogacy. Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, (God) St. Joseph was Jesus’ foster father…If another woman were impregnated by a man and then went on to marry another man, she would be no less the child’s mother, and definitely not a surrogate.

  • Stephanie Duncan

    Even though Mary raised Jesus, she was not impregnated by Joseph, so she was essentially a surrogate.

  • Inge

    Mary wasn’t a surrogate, she was actually Jesus mother and cared for Him. A surrogate mother only gives birth, the child will be raised by other people. This is a major difference.

  • Stephanie Duncan

    I always wondered why the Catholic Church was against surrogacy when Mary was essentially a surrogate for God. I still haven’t received a good answer for this.

  • Inge

    Behtany, in your case the child is already there. I assume the parents don’t ‘order’ a child so they can adopt. The whole situation is different in that case.

  • Bethany

    What about adoption then? What if the child is born out of wedlock? And should adoptive parents ask if the child was conceived naturally or does it not matter at that point?

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