Building a Baby in the 21st Century
The babies talked about here were brought about by five different people: the putative social parents (2), the donors of genetic material (egg/sperm) (2), the gestational surrogate (1).
And as the article says, this is a matter of state law–and state law is not at all consistent. And it’s been that way for a while–since the famous New Jersey Baby M case. Here is a story about how she turned out. And here’s the model law proposed by the American Bar Association to address the problem. As I keep telling my students, states are more than convenient locations for tourist bureaus. They have different frameworks for addressing issues–and those differences can matter greatly.
Chosen deliberately as a means of bringing a child into the world, these procedures would not be morally acceptable to official Church teaching. Artificial insemination (by donor or husband) isn’t allowed. Neither is in vitro fertilization–for married couples as well as for anyone else. What’s interesting, however, is that some (but by no means all) conservative Catholic moralists are defending “embryo adoption” which is gestational surrogacy followed by adoption, no the grounds that it is a form of “prenatal adoption” — a way of rescuing frozen embryos from their state of suspended animation. I haven’t studied the issue carefully, but I’m skeptical about the logical consistency of the arguments.
UPDATE: HERE IS DIGNITATIS PERSONAE, the latest Vatican instruction on the topic–which, as David Gibson and Paul Lauritzen rightly point out, doesn’t green light embryo adoption either.