SELLING BABIES: HOW WA STATE IS BECOMING A GLOBAL MARKETPLACE FOR CHILDREN

“‘[H]uman decency’ died in the dark this morning around 1 a.m. at your WA State Capitol. House Democrats voted to legalize the purchase and sale of human babies in the wee hours of the morning,” according to Washington State Representative Liz Pike.[1] Effective January 1, 2019, human babies will become commodities for sale.

 

The recent overhaul of the Washington State Uniform Parentage Act (SB 6037), removed the state’s prohibition on commercial surrogacy contracts. Surrogacy is a method of assisted reproduction in which a woman’s body is used to develop and deliver a baby that will be given to another person or family. Sometimes the “surrogate mother is artificially inseminated by either the intended father or anonymous donor”, producing a baby that is genetically related to the surrogate mother (traditional surrogacy).[2] At other times, “an egg is removed from the intended mother or an anonymous donor and fertilized with the sperm of the intended father or anonymous donor. The fertilized egg, or embryo, is then transferred to a surrogate who carries the baby to term” (gestational surrogacy).[3] In either case, the birth mother relinquishes the baby to whom she has given birth and surrenders her parental rights, often for a sum of money that was negotiated before the pregnancy.

 

While not often acknowledged, surrogacy has become one of the world’s leading human rights concerns. It is a practice that exploits women, encourages designer babies, and commoditizes human life. Moreover, its history has been awash with scandals and abuse. The Guardian reports:

From the infamous “Baby M” case[4] – in which the mother changed her mind and was forced, in tears, to hand over her baby – to the Japanese billionaire who ordered 16 children from different Thai clinics.[5] There has been a total commodification of human life: click; choose race and eye colour; pay, then have your child delivered.

Then there’s the recent case of the American surrogate mother who died;[6] or the intended parents who refused to accept a disabled child and tried to get their surrogate to abort;[7] not to mention the baby factories in Asia.[8]

 

Because of this sordid history, several protective amendments were proposed for the Uniform Parentage Act, but they were all rejected in the final bill. According to the children’s rights organization Them Before Us, this bill either permits or fails to protect against:[9]

  • Mass produced babies, such as the 28-year-old Japanese millionaire who wants to father 10–15 babies every year until he is dead.[10]
  • Predatory intended parents, such as Mark Newton and Peter Truong who are believed to have used a surrogate to adopt a boy ‘for the sole purpose of exploitation,” having performed a sex act on the boy when he was less than two weeks old, and having offered the boy up for sex with at least eight men in what investigator Brian Bone described as “[P]robably the worst [pedophile] rings … if not the worst ring I’ve ever heard of.”[11]
  • Unfit intended parents, such as “‘CM,’ a single, 50-year old, deaf-mute postal worker who is ‘depressed, has anxiety, a paranoid personality disorder, irrational anger fits, has pulled his own hair out, and has a history of being cruel to family pets—even killing them.’” CM received custody of triplets—who have since been hospitalized due to neglect—born through surrogacy.[12]
  • State-sanctioned child trafficking, such as Bridget Wismer who sold her unborn son for $15,000 to afford a trip to Disney World.[13]
  • Manufacturing unwanted children, such as the case of Sherri Shepherd, former co-host of The View, who “lost her battle to be removed from the birth certificate of the baby she created through surrogacy. Though she is not genetically related to the boy, is no longer married to his father, didn’t carry the child, and wants nothing to do with the baby, according to the SB 6037-style surrogacy contract Shepherd is required be his “mother.”[14][15]
  • Groups of intended parents. “Section 513 permits the state to adjudicate ‘more than two parents’ for a child. The language of the bill is unclear as to whether or not, for example, four men could pool their money and create a child through surrogacy and all have the full force of the state behind their parental rights.”[16]
  • Preying on disabled women. “The Senate rejected an amendment that would prohibit using a woman with a developmental or intellectual disability as a surrogate.”[17]

 

This bill is devoid of even the most basic protective measures for the baby. Intended parents are not subject to the same screening procedures as adoptive parents, and there will be no creation of a state-run database to identify intended parents.[18] According to Representative Liz Pike, “[T]he bill even permits convicted felons to purchase human babies.”[19] And the intended parents can be any combination of adults, any gender, married or single, living or deceased.[20]

 

Although this bill is a product of the Washington state legislature, it will necessarily affect every state in the nation because there are no residency requirements demanding those who intend to pay for surrogacy services be residents of Washington, or even that the women must be inseminated in Washington.[21] Instead, all that is required to create a legally binding contract is a single in-state “medical evaluation or procedure or mental health consultation”.[22] As such, this will almost certainly give rise to a case that will eventually be heard by the Supreme Court. Moreover, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Delaware are in the process of passing similar legislation.[23]

 

According to the Family Policy Institute of Washington:

The reason this bill exists is that some men in same-sex relationships want biological children. For most of the [28] legislative sponsors, this bill is probably nothing more than a way to show they care about gay people. Yes, heterosexual couples use surrogates as well, but the political push for contract surrogacy is being made primarily by gay men.

Since gay men can’t have children on their own, they often pay women to carry a child for them. This means they frequently end up in inconvenient and expensive custody disputes.

This bill would resolve those conflicts quickly and neatly in favor of the party with money by forbidding the court from considering the best interest of the child or circumstances that might have changed since the mother first entered into the agreement. … Are we a community where the adults exist to take care of the kids, or are we a community where children exist to meet the needs of the adults?

Whatever complications we adults are facing, making it legal to sell children is not the solution.[24]

 

Apart from the moral questions inherent in the issue of surrogacy, this new law promises to victimize untold numbers of children. Katy Faust told The Christian Post, “When I say that we have established a global marketplace for children, I am not exaggerating. That is exactly what this is.”[25] Rather than protect the vested interests of our society’s most vulnerable, Washington State has sold the well-being of babies for political favor and to progress a radical social experiment that stands in opposition to God’s Word. And this should grieve us as a people because it grieves God. In fact, God warned those who make unjust and oppressive laws that exploit the poor and helpless (Isa. 10:1–3, NIV), decreed disaster upon the nation of Israel for selling the innocent for silver (Amos 2:6, NIV), and declared that the plundering of the poor and the groaning of the needy will provoke Him to rise in their defense (Psa. 12:5).

 

As a nation, we are invoking God’s wrath by our exploitation of the poor and the innocent. We are inviting God to rise against us. Decisions such as Washington’s Uniform Parentage Act move our nation ever closer to the moment when God’s patience will reach its limit, and we are met with God’s question in Isaiah 10:3, “What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help?”

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Timothy Zebell

Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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1. Vance, Ken. “Republican Lawmakers Enraged by Passage of ‘The Uniform Parenting Act.’” Clark County Today, February 28, 2018. Accessed March 7, 2018. https://www.clarkcountytoday.com/opinion/republican-lawmakers-enraged-by-passage-of-the-uniform-parenting-act/.

2. “Overview of the Surrogacy Process.” Human Rights Campaign, n.d. Accessed March 7, 2018. https://www.hrc.org/resources/overview-of-the-surrogacy-process.

3. Ibid.

4. “Baby M.” Wikipedia, n.d. Last updated December 9, 2017. Accessed March 7, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_M.

5. “Thai Surrogate Offers Clues into Japanese Man with 16 Babies.” The National, September 3, 2014. Last updated September 3, 2014. Accessed March 7, 2018. https://www.thenational.ae/world/asia/thai-surrogate-offers-clues-into-japanese-man-with-16-babies-1.239982

6. “American Surrogate Mom Dies.” The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, October 12, 2015. Accessed March 7, 2018. http://www.cbc-network.org/2015/10/american-surrogate-mom-dies/

7. Cohen, Elizabeth. “Surrogate Offered $10,000 to Abort Baby.” CNN, March 6, 2013. Accessed March 7, 2018. https://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/04/health/surrogacy-kelley-legal-battle/

8. Mackay, Don. “Shocking Pictures Show Chinese Baby Factory where Mothers are Paid £10,000 for Their Newborns.” Mirror, January 13, 2015. Last updated January 13, 2015. Accessed March 7, 2018. https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/shocking-pictures-show-chinese-baby-4971128.

9. Faust, Katy. “Disaster Surrogacy Cases Sanctioned by Washington State’s SB 6037.” Them Before Us, February 12, 2018. Accessed March 7, 2018. https://thembeforeus.com/disaster-surrogacy-cases-sanctioned-washington-states-sb-6037/

10. Salleh, Nur Asyiqin Mohamad. “Japanese Behind ‘Baby Factory’ Wants More Surrogate Kids.” The Straits Times, February 25, 2018. Accessed March 7, 2018. http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/japanese-behind-baby-factory-wants-more-surrogate-kids

11. Ralston, Nick. “Named: The Australian Paedophile Jailed for 40 years.” The Sydney Morning Herald, June 30, 2013. Accessed March 7, 2018. https://www.smh.com.au/national/named-the-australian-paedophile-jailed-for-40-years-20130630-2p5da.html

12. Grossu, Arina. “Supreme Court Must Take on Heartbreaking Surrogacy Case.” The Hill, September 30, 2017. Accessed March 7, 2018. http://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/353252-supreme-court-must-take-on-heartbreaking-surrogacy-case

13. Daily Mail Reporter. “Mother Who Tried to Sell Baby to Get $15,000 for Trip to Disney Pleads Guilty but Mentally Ill.” The Daily Mail, n.d. Last updated June 8, 2012. Accessed March 7, 2018. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2156608/Bridget-Wismer-sold-baby-15-000-John-Gavaghan-Disney-trip-pleads-guilty-mentally-ill.html

14. Faust, Katy. “Disaster Surrogacy Cases Sanctioned by Washington State’s SB 6037.”

15. Herbst, Diane. “Sherri Shepherd Must Remain on Birth Certificate of Son Born Via Surrogate, Pay Child Support.” People, November 24, 2015. Accessed March 7, 2018. http://people.com/crime/sherri-shepherd-loses-surrogacy-custody-appeal-to-lamar-sally/

16. Faust, Katy. “Disaster Surrogacy Cases Sanctioned by Washington State’s SB 6037.”

17. Ibid.

18. Showalter, Brandon. “Washington State to ‘Monetize Wombs,’ Legalize ‘Baby Selling,’ Redefine ‘Parent.’” The Christian Post, March 2, 2018. Accessed March 7, 2018. https://www.christianpost.com/news/washington-state-to-monetize-wombs-legalize-baby-selling-redefine-parent-219933/.

19. Ibid.

20. Manning, Stacy. “A Baby with Five ‘Parents’? It May be Coming to a State Near You.” Life Site, February 27, 2018. Accessed March 7, 2018. https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/a-baby-with-five-parents-it-may-be-coming-to-a-state-near-you

21. Showalter, Brandon. “Washington State to ‘Monetize Wombs,’ Legalize ‘Baby Selling,’ Redefine ‘Parent.’”

22. House Committee on Judiciary. “House Bill Report ESSB 6037.” Washington State House of Representatives, February 22, 2018. Accessed March 7, 2018. http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bill%20Reports/House/6037-S.E%20HBR%20JUDI%2018.pdf

23. Manning, Stacy. “A Baby with Five ‘Parents’? It May be Coming to a State Near You.”

24. Backholm, Joseph. “Selling Babies? Many Washington Legislators Say Yes.” Family Policy Institute of Washington, January 3, 2018. Accessed March 7, 2018. https://www.fpiw.org/blog/2018/01/03/selling-babies-many-washington-legislators-say-yes/.

25. Faust, Katy. “Disaster Surrogacy Cases Sanctioned by Washington State’s SB 6037.”