AFP Statement on Pope Francis’s Call for a Global Ban on Surrogacy
In a recent State of the World speech, Pope Francis deemed surrogate motherhood “despicable,” and called for a universal ban on its use. On behalf of the cancer patients and survivors we represent, the Alliance for Fertility Preservation felt compelled to respond to this declaration.
First, let’s be clear — the overwhelming majority of situations involving gestational carriers (surrogates) arise not for convenience, but because the intended parent is physically unable to carry the pregnancy. For cancer survivors, this may be because of damage to their reproductive system caused by the surgery, chemotherapy or radiation needed to treat their cancer, or due to their ongoing need for systemic treatment or surveillance incompatible with pregnancy. For these patients, gestational surrogacy may be the only option for biologic parenthood.
Second, people who act as gestational surrogates neither intend nor desire to be the mother of the child. They are not “trafficking in” or selling children. They are participating in a viable, medically safe process, and in doing so, giving one of the most precious gifts that a person can give to another human being. This is true whether they are compensated, or, like many gestational surrogates, are doing so altruistically, as sisters, mothers or friends.
While we respect the Catholic church’s freedom to determine their own doctrine, we believe the call for an absolute ban on surrogacy undermines patient choice, bodily autonomy, and would cruelly and unnecessarily prevent the birth of very wanted children to many cancer patients and survivors, who have already lost so much due to their illness. As the Pope said, “a child is always a gift” – we agree – which is why we believe that gestational surrogacy should remain an option for those who need it.
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