Bishop Barron: Surrogacy Results in ‘Commercialization of Women and Children’

Speaking on behalf of the U.S. bishops, Bishop Robert Barron condemned the practice of surrogacy, joining Pope Francis in doing so.

Bishop Robert Barron
Bishop Robert Barron (photo: Archdiocese of Los Angeles)

Speaking on behalf of the U.S. bishops, Bishop Robert Barron condemned the practice of surrogacy, joining Pope Francis in calling it a “grave injustice” that results in the “commercialization of women and children.”

Bishop Barron, who is the head of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, and chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family, and Youth, issued his statement on Jan. 10. His statement follows the Pope’s speech Jan. 8 to the ambassadors to the Vatican in which he called for a global ban on surrogacy, calling it a “grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child.” 

“The desire to utilize surrogacy might feel like the desire to form a family naturally, but no matter how well-intentioned, surrogacy always does grave injustice to the child, any discarded embryos (who are our fellow human beings), the commodified birth mother, and the loving union of the spouses,” Bishop Barron said.

“Surrogacy represents the commodification and instrumentalization of a woman’s body, treating her as a ‘carrier’ rather than a human person,” he went on, adding that “just as troubling is the fact that the child is reduced to terms of buying and selling as an object of human trafficking.”

Surrogacy is legal in most states, and according to Fortune, the surrogacy industry is “booming,” worth more than $14 billion in the U.S. in 2022. Surrogate mothers who agree to carry other individuals’ babies are typically paid between $50,000 to $60,000 to do so, according to the group SENSIBLE Surrogacy.

Bishop Barron echoed the Pope’s words, saying that “a child is a gift and as such can ‘never [be] the basis of a commercial contract.’” 

“It might be the case that couples earnestly want to have children without resorting to surrogacy, but painful and even life-threatening medical obstacles make childbirth hazardous or impossible,” he granted.

“The Church teaches that married couples are not obliged to actually have children, but to be open to any life that might be the fruit of their union.”

The Church, he went on, has a “responsibility to accompany these couples [struggling with infertility] in their suffering.”

Nevertheless, he said that the “commercialization of women and children in surrogacy is underlined by the belief that there is a right to have a child. The child becomes an object for the fulfillment of one’s desires instead of a person to be cherished.”

“In this way,” he went on, “the genuine right of the child to be conceived through the love of his or her parents is overlooked in favor of ‘the right to have a child by any means necessary.’”

Bishop Barron said: “We must avoid this way of thinking and answer the call to respect human life, beginning with the unborn child.”