As surrogacy becomes more common, should contracts for babies be subject to the strict vetting applied to adoption? Is there a public interest in regulating the process and deciding who can obtain a baby through surrogacy? Or is this a reproductive right that should be left to the private realm?
Most will not be surprised at the responses from this panel of experts – particularly given the leading nature of the questions. One of my quibbles with the New York Times is that they yet again seek the opinion of academics, rather than actual practitioners in the field. With all due respect to this panel (and I mean that sincerely), this recent entry by the New York Times is replete with the same problems as their article of two weeks ago. If the Times was actually interested in obtaining an accurate picture of the “facts on the ground”, they would have reached out to any number of experts who are on the front lines every day. I find it hard to believe that if the New York Times wanted to run a fair and balanced piece on the war in Afghanistan, they would seek insight only from those in academia as opposed to speaking to military officials charged with the prosecution of the war. My colleague, Steven Snyder, did a fantastic job fisking the original New York Times article and rather than rehash my objections here, I recommend you read Steve’s post at the AFA Blog.
To be fair, I agree with many of the opinions of these experts. In fact, I have been clamoring for some of the changes they have suggested for years. However, the New York Times does a great disservice to this entire industry by cherry-picking the aberrational stories and asking the most obvious questions to support their own hypothesis. Readers of the New York Times deserve better. Stephanie Saul, the author of the original article, is a writer I have great respect for as she did some very solid reporting on the SurroGenesis scandal back in March. Unfortunately the last two articles paint a misleading picture about an industry that does far more good than harm. The atypical incidents described in the New York Times article of December 12th are no more representative of this industry than highlighting the failed terrorist attack last week by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and then arguing that airline travel is no longer safe. Parents kill their genetic offspring at an alarming rate. Just a few days ago the Los Angeles Times reported on a horrific incident of a young woman dumping her newborn child into a dumpster outside a restaurant. Given this aberrational incident, should the New York Times query a panel of experts ion whether we should regulate procreation between consenting adults?
Tens of thousands of Americans have had children through surrogacy since 1979 without any difficulty at all. The reality portrayed in the New York Times article does not exist in the world I practice in. In my years of practice, I have handled more than 8,000 reproductive arrangements. Never once has one of my clients (or their surrogates) experienced anything remotely close to the incidents described in the New York Times article.
This industry does need regulation, but not primarily for the reasons described in the New York Times articles. My overriding concern about these New York Times articles is that by framing the debate based upon truly aberrant cases, the resulting legislation will be dracionian and ultimately will unfairly and unreasonably limit access to these technologies. Every industry has their share of crooks and scam artists. What this industry does not need are knee-jerk reactions to unbalanced news stories that results in the baby being thrown out with the bath water.