‘Baby:’ One More Item To Add To The Shopping List
Religion & Liberty Online

‘Baby:’ One More Item To Add To The Shopping List

We now live in a world where a child is a commodity. It is an item to be coveted, sought out, assembled and purchased. Found a partner? Check. Got the house? Check. Career going well? Yup. Let’s get a child to complete the package. And like the rest of our lives, we want only the very best. And of course, we have a right to the very best our money can buy.

Does this sound futuristic or dystopian? Tell that to baby Gammy, the little girl who was ordered and purchased (via a surrogate in Thailand) by an Australian couple. The Thai mother became pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl. Gammy, the little girl, has Downs Syndrome. The couple who purchased her also abandoned her in Thailand. They took her brother back to Australia; he had no abnormalities to contend with.

Babies have become disconnected from the biological activity that was meant to produce them. Brandon McGinley discusses the issue in terms of same-sex couples who are seeking to have a child:

In the age of assisted reproductive technology (ART), same-sex marriage detaches child-bearing from biology in a way unlike anything our culture has seen. To be sure, whether through technological intervention or infant adoption, newborns have been assigned legal parents other than their biological parents for quite some time. But these parents have always stood as placeholders for (or reminders of) the unavoidable fact that children have a mother and a father. (Even uncommon single-parent adoptions, such as in the Oscar-winning film Juno, point to this biological fact in that they are considered to be suboptimal — that is, incomplete representations of a biological whole.) Assigning same-sex legal parents at birth, on the other hand, is an explicit denial of the idea that biology and procreation ought to have anything to do with each other.

On this view, a newborn is naturally tied to no one. (Under surrogacy contracts, the child is legally separated at birth from the woman who carried him.) He enters the world more like a bespoke suit than a person, belonging to whoever laid a claim on him by ordering him into being.

The value of a child is thus no longer inherent, but based upon who ordered him or her. And Heaven help the child that doesn’t turn out as planned…take it back to the factory. Or choose to “terminate” but that comes at a hefty price. Then again, what price perfection for the couple who has everything?

A child is not to be bought and sold. A child is a treasure beyond price, a gift without measure. We must continue to be the voice for children like Gammy, who were ordered and sent back.

Elise Hilton

Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.