World Congress of Families; surrogacy issues in Australia - Politics InFocus from InFocus on Vimeo.
Get a Christian perspective of news and politics with the latest political commentary from ACL on “The Politics in Focus”. This TV segment airs fortnightly on the Australian Christian Channel as part of Seventh Day Adventist Media’s weekly InFocus program. Tune in on Fridays at 7pm or Saturdays at 12pm.
In fact the organisers had earlier had to cancel a talk by a Sydney-based Muslim speaker titled Honour Killings Are Morally Justified.
So as I walked into the Sydney Opera House on Saturday I decided to approach the festival with an open yet skeptical mind.
What I was really interested in was a talk by Kajsa Ekman on the topic of surrogacy. Ekman is a Swedish journalist and activist. She’s the author of the book Being and Being Bought: Prostitution, surrogacy and the split self.
Given the recent controversy surrounding surrogacy, including the heart-wrenching story of baby Gammy, I wanted to hear what Ekman had to say.
Here are three things I learned about surrogacy from Ekman’s talk at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas.
Surrogacy is baby trading
This position is difficult to refute. The surrogate mother doesn’t get paid for being pregnant. Rather, she is paid for handing over a baby. Money changes hands and the item being purchased is a new born baby. This is the ultimate in the commodification of humanity and is blatant buying and selling of children—a modern form of human trafficking.
Surrogacy exploits women in poverty
Supporters of surrogacy argue that women who are trapped in poverty can change their circumstance through selling the rights to their womb. Singles or couples are prepared to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get a child.
In defending the right to commercial surrogacy we are defending the interests of the world’s richest people to purchase a family.
Some people argue that because some women are poor, they should sell their womb in order to survive. Poverty becomes an excuse for exploitation. Is that the kind of world we want? This is commercialising life itself – everything is for sale, while those facilitating the transaction get rich. Surrogacy demeans the unique mother-child bond as women can now solely be used as breeding machines.
Surrogacy violates the rights of children
Surrogacy is too often a bad bargain for both the women and children involved in the process.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child affirms that a child must not, "save in the most exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother", and yet surrogacy does exactly that. It is deliberate and premeditated.
Australian ethicist Professor Margaret Somerville condemns any deliberate destruction of the child's biological identity. She says:
"It is one matter for children not to know their genetic identity as a result of unintended circumstances. It is quite another matter to deliberately destroy children's links to their biological parents, and especially for society to be complicit in this destruction."
Helping an infertile couple to have a baby of their own is seen by many as a generous and compassionate gesture from a woman who can help. In this way, everyone can have their own children without having to be pregnant, and poor women can earn some extra money. It looks like a win-win situation. But at a closer look, the surrogacy industry is an exploitation of women's bodies and a sophisticated form of baby trade.
Breeders: A Subclass of Women? - Trailer from CBC Network on Vimeo.
The Centre for Bioethics and Culture has produced a film called Breeder: A subclass of women? which explores the issue of surrogacy and the implications it has on women, children, and families. They talk to surrogates, physicians, psychologists, and activists across the political and ideological spectrum to find out more about this complex and sensitive issue.
You can watch the trailer above.
The film is now available to rent online. You can also purchase a copy through the official film website.
In 2011, ACL's Katherine Spackman interviewed Jennifer Lahl from the Centre for Bioethics and Culture about another one of its films, Anonymous Father's Day, which explores the experience of three donor-conceived people. Follow this link to listen to the interview.
Last December the High Court struck down the ACT’s same-sex marriage law and effectively cut off the legal pathway for states and territories to legislate for this.
In its ruling the High Court said the Commonwealth Parliament, if it wished, could legislate a new definition of marriage – even one that allowed for more than two people.
Despite the repeated assurances of the same-sex marriage lobby that their agenda does not lead to a slippery slope of polygamy or polyamory, the learned judges of the High Court made it clear that marriage did not necessarily mean a limitation to two people.
I don’t for a moment think the federal parliament will go for this, but the fact that such a broad definition was seriously canvassed by an institution such as the High Court underscores that we indeed live in interesting times.
It is not known when the Greens might seek to make their legislative move but it will most likely be in the Senate and soon.
No one seriously believes the numbers exist in this parliament to change the definition of marriage but that won’t stop the Greens and some of their supporters who regrettably exist in both major parties.
For them, this is a strategy of legislation by fatigue – chipping away at the support for man-woman marriage relentlessly.
We live in a democracy and while it is highly unusual for so much parliamentary time to be given over to an issue which has been repeatedly rejected, it is their right to campaign in this way if the parliament allows it.
This makes it all the more important for those of us who believe that motherhood and fatherhood should not be deliberately denied to a child, to speak up and not leave a vacuum.
The influential American Pastor Rick Warren, who prayed at President Obama’s first inauguration, has stood lovingly and graciously firm in his support of man-woman marriage.
Like us at ACL, he is tired of being characterised as against certain people because of his views on marriage.
Last December, he was asked by CNN’s Piers Morgan why he apparently did not support ‘equality’.
“While I may disagree with you on your views on sexuality, it does not give me a right to demean you, to demoralize you, to defame you, to turn you into a demon
“See tolerance, Piers, used to mean we treat each other with mutual respect, even if we have major disagreements. Today tolerance has been changed to mean ‘all ideas are equally valid.’”
Warren went on to say this idea of tolerance was nonsense. It is worth watching this three minute clip from CNN.
In a 2012 interview with Christianity Today, Warren was asked about Christians who apparently hated Muslims. His response could equally apply to attitudes towards same-sex attracted people.
“I am not allowed by Jesus to hate anyone. Our culture has accepted two huge lies: The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”
Australia has a unique opportunity on behalf of children to resist a trend to redefine marriage that has gripped a small number of nations in the world.
At the weekend yet another story appeared promoting the acquiring of babies by same-sex attracted Australian men through complicated commercial surrogacy arrangements, this time in Thailand.
Commercial surrogacy is of course illegal in Australia and for good ethical reasons. The story contained no discussion of the rights of the babies, who were ‘relinquished’ by their birth mothers to be raised by the men.
If the Greens have their way and a new definition of marriage is legislated, it will be near impossible either through stifling political correctness or anti-discrimination law to say it is wrong for a child to be deliberately removed from its natural mother or father.
Our democratic freedoms give us the right to prosecute the case for retaining marriage. The Christian concern for justice, particularly for children who can’t speak for themselves, means we must speak up.
Our disagreement with those seeking to redefine marriage and family does not mean we don’t love them. Yes, even the Greens.
Thursday, 21st March 2013
The Australian Christian Lobby commended the Government on its apology for forced adoptions, but questions the Prime Minister’s assertion that “We can promise that no generation of Australian will suffer the same pain and trauma that you did.”
“The problem with forced adoption was that it broke the biological identity of children,” said ACL’s Managing Director, Jim Wallace.
“But we are creating exactly the same problem for a future generation with those states which permit surrogacy for same-sex couples and singles.
“The worst form of forced adoption was that experienced by the Stolen Generation which broke not only biological and but also cultural identity.
“Today gay couples travel to India to have Indian women carry and bear the child, because nature doesn’t provide them this ability and this inevitably breaks the child’s biological and cultural identity.
“Some gay men even proclaim they will never allow the child to know its real mother,” said Mr Wallace. “How is this not ‘deeply shameful and distressing’ as the PM has called forced adoption today?
“The PM said of the child victims of forced adoption ‘you deserved the chance to know your mother and father’,” said Mr Wallace. “Why doesn’t that apply equally to the children forced from their biological parent through same-sex and single surrogacy?
“How can we denounce forced adoption as breaking the most primal and sacred bond there is, ‘the bond between a mother and her baby’ as the PM said, and not only allow same-sex and single surrogacy, but support same-sex marriage which will be the cultural and legislative cement that would make it irreversible?
“The PM’s speech today is commendable, but let’s join the dots and not repeat the error of breaking biological identity in forced adoptions by permitting same-sex couples and singles surrogacy,” said Mr Wallace.
An Indian service provider on the Lateline program (4/03/2013) revealed more than one third of her clients were Australian gay men.
Tuesday, 28 August, 2012
The same-sex marriage legislation being tabled today in Tasmania, as well as surrogacy laws due to be debated this week, are both radical pieces of social legislation that should be rejected by the Tasmanian Parliament.
According to the Australian Christian Lobby’s Tasmanian Director Mark Brown, it is absurd for Tasmania to be going alone on the issue of same-sex marriage when it is clearly a federal issue.
“The last thing Australia needs is conflicting marriage laws throughout the nation,” Mr Brown said.
“Clearly, the Tasmanian Labor party is not in control of the Parliament if it is allowing the Greens and their loyal activists to control its agenda as part of a wider campaign to pressure on the Federal Government to redefine marriage.
“These are not issues to be taken lightly; it is not in the best interest of children to be deliberately severed from their biological parents – something which surrogacy and same-sex marriage paves the way for,” Mr Brown said.
“The Tasmanian parliament has a responsibility to protect the rights of children to their biological mother and father wherever possible rather than succumb solely to the desires of adults,” Mr Brown said.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
The Australian Christian Lobby today released NT Labor’s written response to a policy questionnaire ahead of this week’s Northern Territory election.
ACL’s policy questionnaire sought all parties’ views on a range of issues of concern to the Christian constituency ahead of Saturday’s election. Only the Labor Party responded.
Labor’s response has been published on the ACL’s election website www.ntvotes.org.au along with audio from Terry Mills’ recent address to Christians and church leaders in Darwin, which Chief Minister Paul Henderson did not attend.
ACL’s Managing Director Jim Wallace said while he was glad Labor had replied, the content of their answers was disappointing. “Many Christians will be attracted to Labor’s positions on some social justice issues like homelessness and indigenous affairs,” Mr Wallace said.
“However their position on a number of important social issues leaves a lot to be desired.
“Labor’s position on issues such as human trafficking, same-sex marriage, adoption and surrogacy, as well as human rights will disappoint many Christians.
“Win or lose, I hope after Saturday’s election the Labor Party will try harder to engage with and earn the support of the Christian constituency.”
Mr Wallace said ACL was also disappointed that the Country Liberal Party has not yet provided a response to this questionnaire, however acknowledged Terry Mills for making the time recently to address Christians at a forum organised by ACL.
The Australian Christian Lobby is a non-party partisan organisation seeking to bring a Christian influence to politics. During election campaigns, ACL seeks to help inform and activate Christians that they may vote for candidates and parties who will advance a more moral, just and compassionate society.
Labor’s response to ACL’s policy questionnaire and an audio recording of Terry Mills’ address to Christians can be found at www.ntvotes.org.au.
Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
The Australian Christian Lobby said it is ironic that Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings has promised a formal apology for forced adoptions in this session of Parliament, given her plan to legalise surrogacy for same-sex couples and singles.
The Premier has failed to recognise that, like forced adoptions, same-sex and single surrogacy will force a child to be severed from biological parents.
ACL’s Tasmanian Director Mark Brown said it’s important to highlight the irony between the proposed surrogacy legislation and forced adoptions.
“Lara Giddings’ pledge to apologise for the injustices and deep hurt caused to mothers and children affected by forced adoptions should be applauded. It is, however, totally inconsistent that in the same session of Parliament, laws may be passed that perpetuate the same injustices for future Tasmanian children,” Mr Brown said.
“Who is going to apologise to these children in 20 years time for them being deprived of, or in some cases even knowing, a mother or father?
“Wherever possible, our government should, in the best interests of children, give them the right to at least begin life with their natural mother and father,” he said.