The Surrogacy Red Herring: Referendum on Marriage Equality

She Needs Her Mother For Life, Not Just For Nine Months

Why is the the ‘No’ side in the marriage equality referendum obscuring the real issue at stake by covering the city lampposts with misty-eyed photos of beautiful babies and toddlers who, it is implied, may be cruelly snatched from their adoring mothers and fathers by gay couples if the referendum is passed? Considering that the ‘no’ campaign is being spearheaded by the Iona Institute – a Roman Catholic organisation -this is either a deliberate fudging of the real issue at stake, or the campaigners are genuinely ignorant of what they are campaigning against. According to the Catholic Church, third party assisted human reproduction (AHR), which requires either donor sperm, donor egg, a donor uterus as in surrogacy or a combination, is against its natural law teaching. A child must be the result of a physical act of sexual intercourse between a man and a woman; to create a child in laboratory conditions is to turn that child into a product. Moreover, to deliberately create a child who will be brought up apart from one or both of its biological parents is to infringe the rights of the child. This teaching applies to both heterosexual and homosexual individuals whether married or not, so the no campaign’s  gay-straight polarisation on the surrogacy issue is not alone an inaccurate representation of Church teaching, but is irrelevant to the marriage equality issue, since marriage does not grant an automatic entitlement to avail of third party AHR. The AHR issue is a separate one; if it’s ok for heterosexual couples to avail of it, however, then it has to be ok for homosexual couples since the core ethical issue relates to the creation of a child who will be brought up apart from one or both of his/her parents. In jurisdictions such as France, Spain, Italy and Germany, where AHR is legally regulated, third party involvement is forbidden, since children must be brought up by their biological parents. 

Were the ‘no’ campaign  to be judged by the major thrust of its arguments, you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s a campaign against third party AHR for gay couples rather than marriage equality; if this is the case, then they must be ignorant of Church teaching, since it applies to heterosexuals also. If, on the other hand, the Iona institute is deliberately fear-mongering, then it is  being deceitful by confusing the issue. In which case they cannot identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ, who described himself as the way, the truth, and the life.

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