Certain methods of surrogacy could encourage adultery within the marriage if they use donor gametes. Does this constitute a violation of the marriage bond? Some see it as breaking the 'one flesh' principle of Genesis 2:24 by introducing a third party into the marriage. By so doing it complicates family relationships, raises issues for the child about his/her genetic origins, leading to possible problems of attachment for the social but not genetic parent of the child. Christians would also fear that surrogacy could be used by same sex couples outside of the bonds of traditional marriage.
The Catholic Church believes that Natural Law prohibits surrogacy, as it is interfering with natural conception. The Catholic Catechism states that a child is a gift not a right, and that surrogacy is "gravely immoral" because a third party comes between the "one flesh" principle that unites husband and wife. In 1987, the Donum Vitae congregation issued a statement on surrogacy, echoing the views of the Catechism and adding that it violates the dignity of the child. A further statement in 2008 through the Dignitas Personae congregation reinforced the teaching that conception should only be a product of conjugal love. They believe surrogacy devalues motherhood, especially commercial surrogacy which is carried out for personal financial gain. Additionally, the surrogate mother may become emotionally attached to the child and this could cause great emotional stress. The church believes that childlessness is God’s will and couples should consider adoption instead.
Moving on to more secular ethical concerns, surrogacy had complex legal implications that can lead to identity issues for a child. Surrogacy poses questions as to what is meant by being a parent. Social or intended parents are those who initiate or commission the surrogacy and bring the child up as their own, genetic parents are those who provide sperm and egg. If the surrogate provides genetic material she is also the ‘biological mother’ and the social mother is strictly the surrogate. Legally the surrogate mother is the child’s mother not the intended mother. The law in Britain states that the surrogate mother is the legal mother until she consents to hand over the baby to the intended parents. Some suggest that the language which is used should be different – the surrogate mother should be known as the provider and used as an incubator to the genetic child of the couple.
There is also the issue of commercial surrogacy and the potential exploitation that can arise from this, particularly in lesser developed countries such as India. Commercial surrogacy has been resisted by many countries not only because it is a form of slavery (by selling the child) but a trap for the poor. Some find that surrogacy reduces human relationships to the market place and turns the baby into a commodity and the mother into a service industry. It also contradicts Kant’s practical imperative never to treat people as a means to an end but an end in themselves. Many feminists have an issue with surrogacy because it compromises a woman’s personal autonomy. The Swedish Women’s Lobby has, together with several other organizations, launched a campaign against surrogacy. “Feminist no to surrogacy” is a politically and religiously independent campaign that takes a strong standpoint against surrogacy on feminist grounds. The campaign supports the resolution adopted by the European Parliament in April 2011, stating that surrogacy is, “an exploitation of the woman’s body and her reproductive organs.”
Furthermore, situation ethics can be used against surrogacy. Situation ethics is based on the ideal that whatever is the most loving thing to do, is ethical. Applying this to surrogacy, it is difficult to judge the topic as a whole, and instead individual cases must be determined. For example, in the case of Baby M, it was not loving on Mary Beth's part to agree to a surrogacy contract, only to later refuse. However, it may also be noted that both the Sterns should have considered Mary Beth's psychological condition and reliability before entering into the contract. Neither acts were in the best interest of the unborn child and thus the decisions made were not very loving, nor ethical.
Ultimately, surrogacy causes us to rethink our views on family, marriage, sex and what makes a mother. Regardless of our views, we should be compassionate towards those suffering from the effects of infertility. You cannot understand their situation unless you have experienced it personally. To quote Laura Bush, “For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows over their lives.”