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Drawing a clear line on surrogacy

Moral limits should place sharp boundaries on political coalitions


Dave Rubin speaks at the 2020 Student Action Summit in West Palm Beach, Fla. Wikimedia Commons

Drawing a clear line on surrogacy
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Political coalitions are tricky things to manage, as both parties have witnessed in recent months. Since the grisly Hamas terrorist attack on Oct. 7, a visible and clear crack in the Democratic Party has opened up on the issue of Israel and the Palestinians. The strong support for Palestinian arguments on college campuses and among left-wing activists has brought these deep differences within the Democratic coalition into the open and threatens to hurt Democratic electoral prospects next November, and perhaps seriously.

Republicans also face a number of fissures within their own coalition as we witnessed with the rebellion against former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the intra-caucus turmoil in choosing the new speaker. Debate, conflict, and jockeying for position is nothing new to politics. How a coalition manages its own tense consensus is essential to political success.

The issue of surrogate parenthood reveals a deep fissure in the conservative coalition that cannot be ignored. As conservatives and Republicans have become more and more the party of anti-woke common sense, persons who would usually find themselves left of center now sometimes find themselves siding with those right of center. To a certain extent, we should welcome this. We need a broad array of people and institutions to push back against the aggressive agenda that has overtaken many of our institutions.

Prominent pundit Dave Rubin is a good example of this type. Openly gay and in a same-sex marriage, Rubin finds himself now on the right (on some arguments) because of his opposition to the wokeness. As is evidenced by his recent appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher, he is an effective critic of the left who is increasingly embracing more conservative positions. Guy Benson, although he has always been on the political right, is another openly gay married man who is sometimes an effective critic of the left.

Conservatives and Christians may share interests with the Bensons and Rubins of the world, but we must also be clear about our fundamental differences. And there are some profound differences. When Benson and Rubin each separately posted pictures of the children that were produced via surrogacy on Twitter many of those on the right who identify as conservatives congratulated them. But a conservatism that gives up on the natural family is a deeply compromised conservatism.

Surrogacy is the medical procedure where a female egg (often from a donor) is fertilized with sperm from a male seeking a “child of their own.” Gay couples like Rubin and Bensen make up a large portion of those who use surrogacy. The fertilized egg is then gestated and birthed by a surrogate who is paid for her services upon delivering the child. The birthing mother retains no legal rights to the child she carries and births.

If this sounds at odds with basic Christian moral convictions about family, sex, and reproduction you would be correct. The whole practice of surrogacy opens a veritable pandoras box of the most thorny and concerning ethical issues, and these are issues that Christians cannot merely overlook.

Every coalition, to be effective, must be cognizant of its shared goals and its limits.

In addition to fundamental moral objections, surrogacy is legally questionable, treats children like commodities to be purchased and produced, and inflicts serious health and psychological maladies upon the woman who donate the eggs, carries the pregnancy, and births the child.

Whatever your conclusions about surrogacy, it cannot be a morally defensible position by any Christian. The surrogacy worldview is premised on the idea that families are merely the artifice of human will designed and brought into being as we please without reference to divine or natural law. If conservative Christianity is about anything, it is about conserving the most basic institution of society: the natural family.

The God-ordained structure of male and female union within the covenant of marriage, with children as the fruit of that union has been and still is the normative biblical standard for all Christians. Christians cannot give in to the legion of unethical or questionable practices promoted by the fertility industrial complex even if they are promoted under the guise of being “pro family.” No matter how you dress this up, Christians should be actively opposing surrogacy at every turn.

If we are beholden to an authority above our own desires, and we are, we cannot reform and redefine families however we please. For Christians and conservatives, we must adhere to the normative vision and limits laid down by our faith. That is not a point up for debate.

When it comes to managing these differences within the broader conservative movement, Christians should be clear about our principles and limits of our partnership. We can and should work with those with shared goals and accommodate where possible. But unlike libertarians, we must object to deviations from creation order and hold fast to Scripture. Similar to abortion and marriage, there can be no compromise with surrogacy that does not compromise our principles.

Every coalition, to be effective, must be cognizant of its shared goals and its limits. The temptation will be to look the other way or make sacrifices on crucial issues in order to maintain peace. But there can be no peace when fundamental convictions are violated. The issue of surrogacy is one such limit where conservatives and Christians need to draw a clear line. Our faith and conscience demand it.


Daniel Strand

Daniel Strand is assistant professor of ethics at the Air War College and ethics chair of Air University. His views do not represent those of the United States government.


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