As same-sex marriage becomes ever more prevalent, once of its accompanying consequences is the conundrum of commercial surrogacy. Recently, a surrogacy arrangement has come to light, which leads one to question the ethical nature of such practices.
A 71-year-old man was recently awarded joint custody of four children, fathered by his 48-year old partner through the use of two Thai surrogate mothers. The men, who had been together for a considerable amount of time, had tried commercial surrogacy before, but were faced with multiple failed attempts. Determined not to fail, they opted for four embryos implanted in two separate women. As luck would have it, a rare occurrence left them with all four viable children.
The father then applied for Australian citizenship by descent for all of the children. But what really presented cause for concern was the fact that the 71-year-old, who has no biological ties with the children, applied for joint custody. However, after much deliberation, his request was granted by Justice Christine Thornton. According to Lauren Ingram of the Daily Mail, she attempted to justify her decision:
Justice Thornton noted that while the situation may be a 'matter of community controversy' her decision was about the welfare of the children.
But her reasoning demonstrated that she really had no other choice:
“The reality is that there are no other carers seeking parental responsibility for the children. In these circumstances I am satisfied that the proposals of the (couple) are in the best interests of the children,” Justice Thornton said when making the decision.
While the fathers were each given pseudonyms in the case, “Mr Knutsen” and “Mr Abney,” the four children were merely identified as A, B, C and D. This is sadly telling, because it demonstrates the dehumanisation (as well as commodification) of the children.
This begs the question: is surrogacy – regardless of the positive intent of the intended “parents” – ever in the best interests of the child? In the case of these children, what happens if the relationship of the fathers was to end? Would the 71-year old man, with no biological relationship to the children, have custody rights, further separating these children from their biological roots?
Due to the rise of same-sex marriage activism, the campaign for the legalisation of surrogacy, the buying and selling of children, is becoming more prevalent. The redefinition of marriage paves the way for surrogacy to redefine and destroy relationships and lives. Surrogacy turns women into “production machines”, and children into commodities. Adults may pay the money for surrogacy, but the true cost is the health, happiness, and humanity of the children.
Is that what we want for Australia’s future generation?