Celebrities and Surrogacy

Episode: 
55

Nicole Kidman and her husband Keith Urban recently announced the arrival of their second daughter. In expressing their gratitude for her birth, they thanked their “gestational carrier.” Kidman and Urban had arranged with a surrogate to carry their genetic child, who was born in Nashville, where the couple lives. Not in Australia, where they are citizens, and where commercial surrogacy is banned. They’ve joined the ranks of celebrities who hired a surrogate.[1]

Surrogacy is not just for the rich and famous. Some time ago, I attended a gala where one of the guests shared why his wife couldn’t come: she was pregnant. But, he went on to add, they were also expecting twins being carried by a surrogate, so would have triplets by Christmas, born two months apart. As it happens, they decided to continue the arrangement with the surrogate, rather then terminating her pregnancy.

What’s behind this mainstreaming of surrogacy? There are several powerful urges driving this latest evolution in assisted reproduction. One is the desire to have a baby that shares your DNA. Another is the postponement of motherhood. Careers often silence the ticking of the biologial clock until the tocks cannot be stifled. The reality is that women’s fertility declines each year after her late 20s. Another urge is the impulse to use any and every medical technology that is available, whatever the cost. There is yet another urge: the desire to avoid the incovenience or the body-reshaping effects of pregnancy. Some agencies outside the US attempt to attract couples who are too busy to have a baby, or women whose appearance is a supreme value. This “rent-a-womb” enterprise exploits women, but that’s a story for another day.

We might think that surrogacy doesn’t affect Christians. But, I know of a situation where a woman is carrying the baby of a couple in her church. Does this matter? Or, is this an area where it is acceptable for Christians to follow the culture?

Surrogacy is ethically troubling for many reasons. One is that it introduces someone else into the marital relationship. This point has many dimensions. For instance, this situation severs the blessing of having children from the means of having sex, it outsources procreation, it allows third parties to intrude into the most intimate aspect of marriage. In short, it transforms the traditional Christian understanding of marriage. Another reason for concern is the intentional splitting of parenthood among several adults. We must not forget the significant implications for surrogates and children, who each deserve thoughtful reflection. There are many other concerns, but let me highlight a third one: surrogacy circumvents God’s sovereignty. Beginning with the Sarah/Abraham/Hagar trio, we’ve seen that using someone else to help get a child is fraught with hazards despite what may be the best of our flawed intentions. We must not rashly assume that our technologically assisted choices are wise. God’s people must be known for choosing according to God’s wisdom. Faith- filled living, not People magazine headlines, must distinguish us from the celebrity culture.

 


[1] Luchina Fisher and Suzan Clarke, “Surrogate Surge: Now Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban Welcome New Baby,” ABC News, January 18, 2011, http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/nicole-kidman-keith-urban-baby-daughter-surrogate/story?id=12635485 (accessed June 6, 2011).

 

 

 

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