Freedom for Surrogates

by Don Boudreaux on August 18, 2011

in Civil Society, Property Rights, Regulation

Here’s a letter to the editor of tothesource:

Arguing against allowing women to be paid to be surrogate mothers, Jennifer Lahl asserts that “commercial surrogacy, whether done legally [or illegally] is still selling babies” (“Babies for Sale, Buyer Beware“).

Not so.

Surrogate mothers are paid to assist infertile couples to have children.  Each surrogate mother is compensated for choosing to give her time; for choosing to bear medical risks; and (if she still chooses after giving birth) for parting with her parental rights in the same way that each and every mother who gives her child up for adoption parts with her parental rights.

On the other side of each of these voluntary exchanges is a couple desiring a child so fervently that they willingly pay a large sum of money to a woman who helps them navigate around the curse of infertility.  Most of these couples have already paid huge sums of money to infertility clinics in unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant – yet, rightly, no one calls the voluntary exchanges that couples have with infertility clinics “baby selling.”

To label voluntary, mutually advantageous contracts between surrogate mothers and infertile couples “baby selling” is a grotesque mischaracterization, one that masks reality behind a blanket of hysteria.

Children brought into the world through surrogacy contracts are no more “sold” than are children brought into the world through infertility treatments.  Why should couples for whom infertility treatments fail be denied the joys of parenthood if they and willing surrogate mothers voluntarily agree to terms that bring new human beings to life?

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

Many years ago I held forth, in the Cato Journal, on the larger issue involved here.

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{ 54 comments }

SweetLiberty August 18, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Okay, if this makes sense for newborns, would it also make sense for a biological mother to contract with another couple to sell her two-year old? Five year-old? I myself have twin girls who are thirteen – if the price were right should I be allowed to contract with another couple to sell one of them (since I have a spare)?

I’m not against surrogacy contracts in principle, I’m just trying to find the philosophical point where a parent’s right to sell their offspring turns immoral.

Craig S August 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Okay, if this makes sense for newborns, would it also make sense for a biological mother to contract with another couple to sell her two-year old? Five year-old? I myself have twin girls who are thirteen – if the price were right should I be allowed to contract with another couple to sell one of them (since I have a spare)?

What a beautifully constructed strawman argument. But isn’t the surrogacy contract worked out before the surrogate mother becomes pregnant? And isn’t she usually impregnated with either the sperm from the prospective father and/or a fertiliazed egg from the couple wanting a child? We are not talking about already pregnant women a selling the child to the highest bidder/

SweetLiberty August 18, 2011 at 6:05 pm

No strawman intended. I’m honestly just trying to explore boundaries here. So if the contract happens before impregnation it is moral, but after it is not? If the father donates sperm (or the mother donates an egg) it is moral, but if not it is immoral? These distinctions seem somewhat arbitrary (though they may very well define “surrogacy” by law, I don’t really know).

Why can’t a surrogate mother get impregnated by a sperm donor (the traditional way or artificially from a sperm bank) and still enter into contract with a couple? Is this any more or less moral? Must a surrogate become pregnant due to contract to be moral, but a woman already two days, two weeks, or two months pregnant who wishes to enter into contract becomes immoral? If the surrogate hands over the baby 30 minutes, 30 days, or 30 months, or 10 years after giving birth, is there truly a moral distinction? Who gets to decide? Must a woman who gives birth but decides she wants to give it up for adoption forego the remuneration of a pre-planned adoption (assuming a willing buyer)?

Surrogacy IS selling human life. The challenge, it seems, is to define when and under what conditions this crosses a boundary into the immoral. The answer is probably very different for different people – but the challenge then becomes to shape societal laws which define these boundaries.

Methinks1776 August 18, 2011 at 7:55 pm

SL,

This is a rent-a-womb situation, not a question of selling babies. The surrogates are human incubators. It is not selling a child, it is selling time in a womb. I realize putting it “that way” may sound callous, but come on! It’s my womb and I’ll do with it as I please.

There are women who inexplicably like being pregnant and prefer to use this particular talent to earn money. As far as I’m concerned, if there is an arrangement between willing adults, it isn’t the business of anyone else.

And let’s face facts about adoption – babies are purchased. I used to joke that I couldn’t figure out whether to make child or buy one (I did neither). The adoptive parents just pay adoption agencies and government agencies instead of the mother. That way, lots of people profit, just not the woman giving up the baby. In fact, the adoptive parents pay a great deal to acquire a child. And is there really anything wrong with paying for the privilege of loving and raising a child?

SweetLiberty August 18, 2011 at 8:53 pm

No. But adoptive parents go through quite a vetting process – one run by the much maligned “state”. This is what theoretically qualifies them as “loving”. Without this, if mothers could sell their babies (or older children as Ken would have it) directly to adoptive parents for profit (as surrogates do), I would imagine there could be a lot of room for moral hazard. Yet I struggle to see a true distinction between surrogate and selling for adoption after the fact.

While I like your phrase “rent-a-womb”, the womb is merely the factory producing the end product – which happens to be a child in this case. Again, I agree that surrogates should be allowed to enter into contract for “services rendered”, but then what really distinguishes a surrogate from someone already pregnant who wants to sell their child other than timing of the transaction? If surrogates can sell their products (babies), why not an already pregnant woman who didn’t start out as a surrogate, or a woman who has given birth but decides now she wants to sell? Intuitively, the former seems more morally acceptable than the latter – but I can’t tell you why other than a vague “slippery slope” argument.

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 9:25 pm

So, would selling a child outside of the womb be crossing the line?

Methinks1776 August 18, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Well, obviously, the state vetting process is fool-proof. If the state gives it the stamp of approval, then it must be Kosher. Parents, on the other hand, would totally screw up every time.

Yet I struggle to see a true distinction between surrogate and selling for adoption after the fact.

We all struggle in life. Keep struggling.

then what really distinguishes a surrogate from someone already pregnant who wants to sell their child other than timing of the transaction?

When she’s acting as a surrogate, it’s not her child she’s carrying. When she’s not acting as a surrogate, it’s her child she’s carrying. You’re conflating two issues.

Michael August 19, 2011 at 8:32 am

Rent-A-Womb? Wombs-To-Go? I think you may have a catchy name for a business there. ;o)

Jacobite August 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Women inexplicably enjoy being pregnant? If you can’t explain this yourself, maybe you ought to talk to a mammal, if you know any.

Sam Grove August 19, 2011 at 1:34 am

Surrogacy is not selling human life, as humans are self owned.
What is being transferred is custody/guardianship and responsibility.

Ken August 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm

SweetLiberty,

Does it turn immoral? As long as the rights of children aren’t violated, why should this be illegal? It might suck for the child to be aware that their biological parents didn’t or couldn’t support them, but how is that different from adoption in general?

The sale would be a transfer of parental rights, not the selling of property, since children are NOT property. If a parent wants to relieve themselves of parental rights to someone who is willing to purchase and accept those parental rights, why not? You make it sound like selling slaves, when it’s more akin to grandparents raising their grandchildren because the actual parents are unwilling or unable to raise their children.

There is also nothing morally wrong with a person becoming pregnant for the sole purpose of selling the child for adoptive purposes. There are many childless couples who desperately want to raise children, even those not theirs biologically. Why deny them that opportunity?

Regards,
Ken

Ken August 18, 2011 at 6:11 pm

SweetLiberty,

I think your comment to Craig raises another important issue: father’s rights. What are his rights if a woman gets pregnant and wants to put it up for adoption? What happens when a woman purposefully gets pregnant during a one night stand for adoptive purposes? Are men to be treated solely as sperm donors to women?

These are thorny issues and they should be dealt with to which I admit having to clear or simple answers. But to simply ban surrogacy and the like seems like using a broadsword when a scalpel should have been used.

Regards,
Ken

SweetLiberty August 18, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Ken,

But would you deny this willing transaction of “parental rights” if the child was already born? If not, why not? If so, up to what age? When does a child earn the right not to be sold? What moral principle defines when the child’s rights are violated by such a transaction other than societal consensus achieved through political majority?

Again, I’m really not against surrogacy in principle, but I can’t see a clear universal line where such a transaction shifts from moral to immoral given a willing buyer and seller.

Ken August 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm

SweetLiberty,

I thought I made it clear that I would NOT deny the transaction if the child was all ready born, up to any age. Primarily because if a parent could not or would not take care of the child, it’s better that child be with someone willing and able to take care of it. Much along the same lines as parents abrogating their rights and responsibilities to grandparents.

And as I stated before it is NOT “selling a child”. A child is not property to be possessed. A child is a person with dignity and rights and a parent is a person with obligations and rights regarding that child. This is what adoption IS. Adoption can currently take place at any age regarding the child being adopted.

I think you are getting caught up and confused by what is being sold and bought, which is why you consider adoption immoral. You seem to be equating adoption with the purchase of a child, being sold as a slave or a piece of property.

Regards,
Ken

SweetLiberty August 18, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Ken,

I appreciate the civil dialogue.

You stated: “I thought I made it clear that I would NOT deny the transaction if the child was all ready born, up to any age.”

So it is moral (though I don’t believe it is currently legal) for me to sell my 13 year old children to a millionaire who might offer me enough money – even if I’m not a generally “bad” parent and my motivation is purely monetary? Even if my children don’t want me to sell my “parental rights” to seemingly nice strangers (or even not so nice)? While I appreciate the consistency of your philosophy, it seems highly vulnerable to abuse.

I do NOT consider adoption – or surrogacy – immoral in general. But however you dress it up, it is selling (or donating) a child – much as you would a pet. Whether I tell you I am selling my child to you for X amount of money, or whether I tell you I am selling my “parental rights” to my child to you seems merely semantics. If I have the right to sell something (or some child), then that entity is treated as my de facto property – I am the recognized owner with legal authority to transfer rights.

But is selling these “rights” immoral? Certainly some (like the author Don objects to) believe it is. I happen to agree that, on balance, surrogacy and adoption is generally done to the benefit of all – including the child. But my contempt for much of human nature tells me that allowing the sale of “parental rights” for children already born is a slippery slope. While I recognize that my position is more arbitrary than your absolute stance, and there is no real moral division between pre-birth surrogacy for money and post-birth adoption for money, I think there should be a law against the latter.

And just to be clear, my children (and my parental rights to them) are NOT for sale (except when they are fighting – then I’m the one willing to pay a premium to get them out of the house).

Methinks1776 August 18, 2011 at 8:08 pm

SL,

Your morals are your own. Dropping the kid off at an orphanage in the care of our incompetent government is far worse than selling your child to a person of your choosing. FAR worse.

Of course your children don’t want you to sell them. It always hurts when your parents aren’t that into you. But, if you’re willing to sell your children, you’re not that attached to them. I wouldn’t want you for a father in that case and you certainly wouldn’t be a very good one.

And, yes, children are kind of property. They belong to you, you are responsible for them until a certain age and you basically can do what you want with them (and, trust, me what you can do with your children is virtually limitless before the incompetent government steps in and makes life an even worse hell for the child). We’d like to think it’s not true, but it actually is.

SweetLiberty August 18, 2011 at 9:24 pm

MeThinks,

“Dropping the kid off at an orphanage in the care of our incompetent government is far worse than selling your child to a person of your choosing.”

Perhaps in most cases under current conditions. However, I could see a market for children developing whereby rich “parents” offer top dollar and then move to a country where they can then sell the services of these children if the wholesale selling of children became legal.

So the question becomes, do you believe parents should be able to sell children of any age to whomever they desire? It seems from your comments your answer is yes (along with Ken), but that’s just a leap I can’t quite make – one that seems to bypass any true rights of the children. Making children wards of the state is no doubt heinous, but the unseen in this case is what consequences would arise if an unregulated free enterprise of selling children were to be allowed? I can’t even imagine Ron Paul running on that ticket… SELL YOUR KIDS WHENEVER, TO WHOMEVER – THE GOVERNMENT WON’T INTERFERE!

“And, yes, children are kind of property. They belong to you, you are responsible for them until a certain age and you basically can do what you want with them (and, trust, me what you can do with your children is virtually limitless before the incompetent government steps in and makes life an even worse hell for the child). We’d like to think it’s not true, but it actually is.”

Yes and no. It seems parents can mentally and emotionally abuse the hell out of their children without consequence – but spank your child in public and social services just might take your kid away. My uncle let his children terrorize his household because of fear from social services, whereas the neighbors next door virtually imprison their kids for weeks and even months for the slightest infraction, causing them severe depression – yet these parents never touch their kids in a harsh manner. Wish I could do something about that one.

You’ll get no argument from me that government is imperfect (to say the least), but if you are not an anarchist and believe in limited government – then the best we can expect is for government to step in on the most egregious cases and leave the rest alone. And, as is the case now, make it illegal to sell children for profit post-birth.

Ken August 18, 2011 at 9:33 pm

SweetLiberty,

“So it is moral (though I don’t believe it is currently legal) for me to sell my 13 year old children to a millionaire who might offer me enough money – even if I’m not a generally “bad” parent and my motivation is purely monetary?”

Again, you aren’t “selling” your children. Additionally, how many people are going to have children, invest 13 years of care and money in them, then give up the right to see them? Do you know of ANYONE ANYWHERE that would do that? Ask any parent if they would give up their 13 year old for some sum of money and I’m pretty sure 100% of them will tell you to pound salt.

As for it just being “semantics” that adoption and selling a child are different is absurd. Adoption and surrogacy are definitively NOT like ownership of a pet. Children are not pets and are afforded rights and dignity that no pet on earth enjoys. If you think this is just semantics, try taking your infant son to a doctor to have his testicles removed.

“But is selling these “rights” immoral?”

No. For the same reason adoption isn’t immoral. At any time during a child’s life RIGHT NOW you can put your kid up for adoption or drop it off at an orphanage. Neither of these actions are immoral. Adding a monetary transaction in there doesn’t make it any less immoral. Unless you can come up with convincing arguments that the current laws should be eliminated, that children cannot be adopted or dropped off at orphanages at any age, then your argument carries no weight.

“But my contempt for much of human nature tells me that allowing the sale of “parental rights” for children already born is a slippery slope.”

Slippery slope arguements don’t really carry much weight for me. Unless you can show me hard data that human dignity will decline more than it all ready does under current adoption and orphanage rules you’re just flailing around throwing out hypotheticals that won’t happen.

And you seem to even understand very well what I’ve said above about giving up your children. I would be willing to bet my entire net worth (substantially over six figures) that you wouldn’t give up your children for any amount of money. What makes you think you’re special that other parents don’t feel like this?

Regards,
Ken

SweetLiberty August 18, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Ken,

Ken,

The concept here is “at the margin”. You acknowledge that currently parents do give up kids of any age to orphanages and adoptions for no recompense. Now imagine the multitude of parents who have considered doing that but haven’t gone through with it. Now add a monetary incentive. How much money would it take to convince them? Demanding statistics to be persuaded ignores the marginal economic principles.

You mention you have a six figure income, but many who make substantially less or at poverty level may have a price at which they would sell some or all of their children – to support drug habits, or perhaps simply to increase the quality of life for themselves and the children they value most. Many foster care parents take in multiple children not for love, but for the limited money the state provides.

“Additionally, how many people are going to have children, invest 13 years of care and money in them, then give up the right to see them? Do you know of ANYONE ANYWHERE that would do that? ”

Yes. Parents in third world countries are known to sell their children purely for money – to think it would be any different here seems nothing more than wishful thinking. This is from a quick Google search (wikipedia Human Trafficking)…

Trafficking in children often involves exploitation of the parents’ extreme poverty. Parents may sell children to traffickers in order to pay off debts or gain income, or they may be deceived concerning the prospects of training and a better life for their children. They may sell their children for labor, sex trafficking, or illegal adoptions.
The adoption process, legal and illegal, when abused can sometimes result in cases of trafficking of babies and pregnant women between the West and the developing world.[19] In David M. Smolin’s papers on child trafficking and adoption scandals between India and the United States,[20][21] he presents the systemic vulnerabilities in the inter-country adoption system that makes adoption scandals predictable.
Thousands of children from Asia, Africa, and South America are sold into the global sex trade every year. Often they are kidnapped or orphaned, and sometimes they are actually sold by their own families.[22] In the U.S. Department of Justice 07-08 study, more than 30 percent of the total number of trafficking cases for that year were children coerced into the sex industry.[14]

Methinks1776 August 18, 2011 at 10:19 pm

However, I could see a market for children developing whereby rich “parents” offer top dollar and then move to a country where they can then sell the services of these children if the wholesale selling of children became legal.

Rich parents to be can already offer top dollar to adopt children and do the same now. Frankly, if you’re really rich, you can come by children to do with as you please fairly easily in the third world.

It seems from your comments your answer is yes (along with Ken), but that’s just a leap I can’t quite make – one that seems to bypass any true rights of the children.

So, dumping them on the state for free and allowing them to churn through “the system” at the whim of uncaring bureaucrats is a-okay, but taking money for them and choosing who will raise them is not? Perverse, don’t you think? Your children are not born with any right to live with their birth parents. Your child is born with the right to be cared for properly by his or her caretaker. That is all – and that is everything.

then the best we can expect is for government to step in on the most egregious cases and leave the rest alone.

Right. So, unless the caretaker is abusing the child, the state should stay out of it. Not to mention….the state wouldn’t know abuse from hole in the ground. Protective services only springs into action and completely overreacts when someone is caught spanking in public and it goes viral on youtube. Children who are truly tortured by their parents (sometimes to death) are left to do as they please. What was it you were saying about the rights of children?

BTW, have you ever been a ward of the state? I doubt you would find that preferable.

Ken August 18, 2011 at 10:23 pm

SweetLiberty,

“Now imagine the multitude of parents who have considered doing that but haven’t gone through with it.”

This is the type of assumption that I don’t find convincing. Do you have any data anywhere to back this up?

“How much money would it take to convince them?’

How much money would it take to convince you to give up your children?

“Demanding statistics to be persuaded ignores the marginal economic principles.”

Ignoring any lack of data, you simply assume your conclusion.

“You mention you have a six figure income”

No I didn’t. I said six figure net worth. I’ve been working and saving for almost three decades having started working at age 12.

“Parents in third world countries are known to sell their children purely for money”

Yes, to parents in first world nations. Do you think they are selling their children, so their children can live a better life, or do you really believe it’s about making a fast buck? Additionally, this isn’t what we’re discussing. We’re talking about surrogacy and the morality of being a surrogate for money or allowing someone adopt your kid for a price. This is a straw man.

“Trafficking in children”

Again, we’re not talking about trafficking in children. Don’t change the subject. We’re talking about surrogacy and the morality of being a surrogate for money or allowing someone adopt your kid for a price. This is a straw man.

Regards,
Ken

Ron H August 19, 2011 at 3:41 am

SweetLiberty

Perhaps in most cases under current conditions. However, I could see a market for children developing whereby rich “parents” offer top dollar and then move to a country where they can then sell the services of these children if the wholesale selling of children became legal.

This is a silly argument. Why would rich “parents” pay top dollar for some of the most expensive children in the world, then move to a country where the children can be rented out, when there are already children available at much lower prices in the country they intend to set up business in? It just doesn’t make sense.

I think the problem you have with transferring parental rights has something to do with money changing hands. You haven’t said so, but I believe you would argue that someone who can no longer care for their dependent children is doing a moral thing by giving them up to a loving home where they will be well cared for, unless money changes hands. Is that the difference?

This is similar to the argument against selling organs. I can donate a kidney to someone who desperately needs one, but I can’t sell them one. Why is that?

SweetLiberty August 19, 2011 at 11:52 am

SL: “Now imagine the multitude of parents who have considered doing that [giving up their children to adoption] but haven’t gone through with it.”

Ken: This is the type of assumption that I don’t find convincing. Do you have any data anywhere to back this up?

No. But you don’t have any data saying their wouldn’t be a growing market for selling children (or parental rights) were paid adoption legalized. My logic and understanding of economics tells me that incentives matter. What do you base your data-less assumption on that no increase in the transfer of parental rights would occur upon adding more money to the mix?

Ken: “How much money would it take to convince you to give up your children?”

If I were a better parent, I would consider giving my kids up for adoption (paid or not). I hold on to them for admittedly selfish emotional reasons, but I recognize the significant probability that someone out there with a lot more money than I have can not only offer them the love and affection my wife and I do, but also give them better opportunities for education and a more solid financial future, along with the stability and security that goes with it. But no, I personally wouldn’t sell my children – and I’m certainly not asserting that the majority of parents would if paid adoption became legalized. However, I can reason that, allowing for paid adoptions, more children would be presented for adoption than otherwise since demand incentives increase supply. Even then, the majority of transactions would probably be for what you and I would agree are positive motives (though I have no data to back this up). But it is not, I think, an invalid assumption to also believe that the monetary incentive would also add to transactions where the motives of both parties are more nefarious.

Ken: “Do you think they are selling their children, so their children can live a better life, or do you really believe it’s about making a fast buck?”

From wiki: “Parents may sell children to traffickers in order to pay off debts or gain income, or they may be deceived concerning the prospects of training and a better life for their children. They may sell their children for labor, sex trafficking, or illegal adoptions.”

Ken: “We’re talking about surrogacy and the morality of being a surrogate for money or allowing someone adopt your kid for a price.”

At the heart of this morality argument is the motivation for surrogacy and adoption for a price. If adoption for a price would lead to an increase in human trafficking – which I fear it would (acknowledging neither of us have data to say it would or wouldn’t), then concern of this increase is not irrelevant to the conversation of morality. If you could provide data to show no increase in the abuse of children would occur were paid adoption legalized, you would have my vote. But for now, it seems intuitive to me that abuse would go up if monetary incentives were added to the process.

MT: “Frankly, if you’re really rich, you can come by children to do with as you please fairly easily in the third world.”

Yes, but does this make it moral? Because this is done in the third world, does that mean we should open up the market here to support such practices?

MT: “So, dumping them on the state for free and allowing them to churn through “the system” at the whim of uncaring bureaucrats is a-okay, but taking money for them and choosing who will raise them is not? Perverse, don’t you think? ”

Point taken. But my concern is that some parents who currently dump their children on the state may be more likely to take the highest bidder’s offer without too many questions. Which leads to the question: Do you believe the state should be involved in the vetting process of adoption at all (paid or unpaid)?

MT: “Your child is born with the right to be cared for properly by his or her caretaker.”

And who defines “cared for properly”? The state.

Final Comments: I am not against surrogacy – the way I understand it to be set up currently. And as much as it seems I am against adoption for money – which I see as a natural extension of surrogacy – I do not dismiss out of hand the potential upside to allowing such transactions to occur for many cases. But I do believe (perhaps erroneously), at the margin the monetary incentive to sell children (or parental rights to children if you prefer) increases the potential for child abuse for a greater number of children.

I admit to having no data (other than to a Wikipedia entry which describes the deplorable motives of some parents in selling their children for money), but even so, at a gut level, it is hard for me to imagine the option of selling “parental rights” to the highest bidder. As much as most libertarians (including myself) hate state interference in most instances, the only way I could imagine such a transaction working is through an extensive state vetting process – much like parents who wish to adopt must go through now, but even more rigorous. But as Methinks I’m sure would be quick to point out, many children slip through the cracks of bureaucratic incompetence now. Adding a monetary incentive to the mix would increase the volume of transactions, stressing the system even further.

I’ve said more than my fair share on this topic and will give whoever wants it the last word. I wish to add that knowing how high the “snark” factor can be against those who disagree on this blog, I greatly appreciate the civil discourse and the exploration of this topic. -SL

Ken August 20, 2011 at 2:07 pm

SL,

I don’t need proof that payments will or will not expand the markets. I am not the one calling for restrictions on liberty. The burden of proof lies with the liberty takers (you), not the liberty defenders.

Regards,
Ken

Ken August 22, 2011 at 2:57 pm

SL,

Now that I’m back in town, I’ll give you a fuller response:

“If I were a better parent, I would consider giving my kids up for adoption (paid or not). I hold on to them for admittedly selfish emotional reasons”

How many people have offered to adopt your children for a price? I’m guessing zero, so this is a non-sensical statement. You simply assume that you won’t be the best provider for your children, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason not to believe this.

“At the heart of this morality argument is the motivation for surrogacy and adoption for a price.”

This is the standard argument agains markets in general. It falls down everywhere else, as it does here.

“From wiki”

From wiki? Really? Are you unaware of how biased and unreliable wikipedia is for anything remotely political?

“And as much as it seems I am against adoption for money’

Might as well say “I’m not against building houses, I’m just against building houses for money”. You can see how stupid a statement that is (I hope anyway), so why is it different here?

Regards,
Ken

Ron H August 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm

SweetLiberty

I wish to add that knowing how high the “snark” factor can be against those who disagree on this blog, I greatly appreciate the civil discourse and the exploration of this topic. -SL

You have expressed what appears to be your honest opinion on the issue. I think that is appreciated and respected, even if others disagree with you.

I believe the snark you see here is the result of many commentators having a low tolerance for BS. Especially constantly repeated BS.

By the way, based on your apparently high regard for the State, you may want to reconsider your self-description as a libertarian. :)

SweetLiberty August 19, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Now, now, don’t mischaracterize my position. I need not hold the state in high regard in most areas for me to acknowledge the necessity of the state in some areas (national security, law definition and enforcement, court systems, etc.) Even Don Boudreaux recently said in one of his posts he believes in limited government confided by Constitution. Does that exclude him from being a libertarian?

Ron H August 20, 2011 at 1:54 am

SL

Even Don Boudreaux recently said in one of his posts he believes in limited government confided by Constitution. Does that exclude him from being a libertarian?

No. Someone who believes there should be no government at all, might describe themselves as an anarchist. Libertarians come in a range of flavors. Someone who believes that small, very limited government, including one strictly confined by the Constitution could be included in that group. Most libertarians believe in natural or inalienable rights that include life, liberty, and property. A government limited to protecting and enforcing those rights is most likely acceptable to most libertarians. Surely you will agree that that doesn’t describe current US governments at any level.

I will list a few phrases from your previous comments that I don’t think sound very libertarian:

“But adoptive parents go through quite a vetting process – one run by the much maligned “state”. This is what theoretically qualifies them as “loving”.

Hopefully you don’t believe “the state” has the right, or is qualified, to determine who would be good or loving parents.

- Because this is done in the third world, does that mean we should open up the market here to support such practices?

Who is “we”? libertarians don’t often refer to “we”.

Which leads to the question: Do you believe the state should be involved in the vetting process of adoption at all (paid or unpaid)?

A libertarian would answer no.

And who defines “cared for properly”? The state.

I can’t tell whether you approve of the state having this authority, but a libertarian would not.

The answer is probably very different for different people – but the challenge then becomes to shape societal laws which define these boundaries.

Libertarians don’t talk this way. A libertarian doesn’t ask for laws forcing others to conform to his own moral boundaries.

As for surrogacy, your statement:

While I like your phrase “rent-a-womb”, the womb is merely the factory producing the end product – which happens to be a child in this case. Again,

Perhaps it’s just being picky, but the word “producing” is inaccurate in this context. The surrogate hasn’t produced anything, but is merely providing support for someone else’s fetus until it becomes viable. This is not exactly the same, but similar to the protection and care provided by a sitter you would pay to watch your child while you went to dinner. Or, perhaps the life support a hospital would provide your child if born prematurely.

The libertarian view is that a person can do whatever they wish with their own body, including carrying someone else’s fetus. No one is selling children in this instance.

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Good question. I, too ask the same.

vikingvista August 19, 2011 at 1:01 am

I can think of no greater reason for allowing–even encouraging–the sale of children than to get them away from parents who want to sell them.

Ken August 19, 2011 at 2:16 am

VV,

That was actually one of the first thoughts that I had too.

Regards,
Ken

Don August 18, 2011 at 4:56 pm

“Why should couples for whom infertility treatments fail be denied the joys of parenthood if they and willing surrogate mothers voluntarily agree to terms that bring new human beings to life?”

Two words: Population Control.

Sorry, the conspiracy theorist took control of the keyboard for a second.

Now back to our regularly scheduled neurosis ;^)

Anotherphil August 19, 2011 at 11:19 am

The best test of the equity of “population control” is that the loudest advocates keep breathing.

rbd August 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm

It is shocking at first – this idea of selling parental rights, but you do lay out a pretty convincing argument in the Cato piece.

However, before we venture into selling babies (or parental rights), let’s first allow American’s to institute these same principles for organ donation.

Why I can’t sell my kidney to someone who desperately needs it is beyond reason. How many folks have to die waiting for organs when a system such as this would saves thousands of lives every year?

Jen August 18, 2011 at 5:52 pm

My offer still stands to buy that vote you aren’t using. (See next thread)

Invisible Backhand August 18, 2011 at 7:20 pm

I get a strong sense around here that the emotionally stunted just viscerally cannot understand people with emotions. People have fought and died for both babies and the right to vote, but those things must be meaningless to every one since it is meaningless to them. QED.

Fred August 18, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Women are difficult to understand. This is true.

Methinks1776 August 18, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Until I stumbled upon your post, I was thinking to myself that the only thing missing from the comment section so far is an irrelevant bit of idiocy from a witless twit. Now, thanks to Invisible Brain, the comment section is complete.

Invisible Backhand August 18, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Change twit to twat and you are 100% correct.

Ken August 18, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Ha! I love that you admit that you are a witless twat, IB. At least your man/woman enough to own it.

Regards,
Ken

Methinks1776 August 18, 2011 at 10:21 pm

I’d just as soon not think about your twat, thanks.

Invisible Backhand August 19, 2011 at 10:53 am

I’m a guy, so I’m the twatless wit here. You are the ______ ____.

PrometheeFeu August 18, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I think you make your argument too narrowly Don. Why should infertility be brought up? What about if my wife and I are both wealthy, have good jobs and want to raise kids but not have to deal with the physical annoyance of pregnancy? Perhaps we do not want to interrupt either one of our careers for this. I don’t think infertility needs to enter the equation.

Methinks1776 August 18, 2011 at 8:00 pm

I agree. There are many reasons people may choose to use a surrogate, infertility is but one and it certainly isn’t a pre-requisite.

Jim August 18, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Can’t help but think if there was a market for pregnancies and babies, we’d have less abortions and single mothers living in poverty, which I think would be a good thing both for the child and the mother.

Certainly the abortion, child support, womyn’s rights, and divorce laws have all conspired to create a very strange world for children these days, our most precious commodity and our future.

Anotherphil August 19, 2011 at 11:17 am

Can’t help but think if there was a market for pregnancies and babies,

Its called “adoption”.

Ryan Vann August 19, 2011 at 2:27 am

I like this “buying children” avenue of thought. Might as well make it a one stop shopping experience and have babies for sell at the local Baby Gap. You can pick out your baby and their clothing all one outing.

SaulOhio August 19, 2011 at 5:43 am

Lahl’s “argument”, such as it is, is based on the emotional reaction of people conditioned to think of commerce and markets as something crude, dirty, even innately corrupt. She simply labels it “exploitation” or “eggsploitation”, and expects people’s Marxist indoctrination to kick in and provoke a negative emotional reaction. This doesn’t work so well with people who see trade as a mutually beneficial relationship, involving mutual respect and freedom. I see trade as being in fact, noble.

“The symbol of all relationships among [rational] men, the moral symbol of respect for human beings, is the trader. We, who live by values, not by loot, are traders, both in matter and in spirit. A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. A trader does not ask to be paid for his failures, nor does he ask to be loved for his flaws. A trader does not squander his body as fodder or his soul as alms. Just as he does not give his work except in trade for material values, so he does not give the values of his spirit—his love, his friendship, his esteem—except in payment and in trade for human virtues, in payment for his own selfish pleasure, which he receives from men he can respect. The mystic parasites who have, throughout the ages, reviled the traders and held them in contempt, while honoring the beggars and the looters, have known the secret motive of their sneers: a trader is the entity they dread—a man of justice.”– Ayn Rand, the Trader Principle in “For the New Intellectual”

Thor August 19, 2011 at 6:44 am

Here are two poems found on the web that speak of the righteousness fruits of reproductive freedom.

Our Chance

Our hope and dreams
Lie within you,
Kicking and turning,
Keeping you up at night
And tired all day.

For us you are a fantasy come alive,
So giving and selfless, warm and caring.
Our admiration for you knows no end.
The fruit you will bear is our future.
Our present is filled with anticipation and wonder.

As you grow (more beautiful each day),
know that our thoughts are with you.
That our hearts beat with yours
And our eyes will cry your tears.

Our world is brighter and happier.
Thank you for making it that way.

The Incredible Gift

From the moment we fell in love,
We decided to share our lives
With a special girl or boy
Who would brighten our days and share our happiness.

We imagined the tender moments
The first smile and laugh
Bathing, holding, cuddling and feeding
Rolling around on a blanket in the park…

As our dream seemed to fade
And time passed without our little one
It was hard to keep believing
That her/his arrival would ever be so near

To find the wonderful woman
Who could help our dream come true
Re-lit our flame of hope
And now, as you carry our little one, our dream,
The one who will someday call us mom and dad,
We thank you for giving us this incredible gift
And for making this a very special mother’s day.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mattheus von Guttenberg August 19, 2011 at 8:53 am

You can’t sell a child because you can’t own children; you’re selling your parental rights of guardianship and custodianship. You’re selling your contract with the child.

It’s arguments like this that remind me why I’m not against abortion; fetuses aren’t human beings yet and thus can be “sold” via infertility and surrogacy contracts.

vidyohs August 19, 2011 at 10:30 am

In addressing the good lady’s (SweetLiberty) concerns about the morality of using the surrogate mother process, I think she is right to be troubled until she finds her own solution to her dilemma.

For myself, I think the morality works itself out in the fact that everyone involved in the process is doing so voluntarily, willingly, knowingly, and intentionally; therefore there is no coercion or real force in making or enforcing the contract.

If the surrogate mother gives up the baby immediately upon birth, the baby will bond to the contracting parents and, unless told, will never know, care, or be bothered by any details surrounding its birth.

SweetLiberty August 19, 2011 at 11:59 am

For the record, I’m a man (still got most the original parts to prove it).

Anotherphil August 19, 2011 at 11:12 am

This is where I get off Don’s radical contractarian crazy train. The authoritarian tone in this post bears an awful similarity to the kind of “we know better” cr*p peddled by Sunstein, Thaler and the rest of academics turned totalitarians that are driving the policy engine of the current administration-and the country into the ground as they tranform us into their utopia.

First, the person of primary importance is the child, not people wishing to use any means to be parents. Is there a little silent evidence here?

Second, if then of the woman is infertile, then only one parent (the sperm donor-father) becomes a parent in both a social and biological sense.

The simple matter is not merely an economic issue. Children are not goods to be produced to meet some demand. They are persons entitled to dignity conferred by their existence and a healthy society makes significant allowances to protect that dignity when they are powerless to assert (or even recognize) it.

There are a myriad of considerations here, psychological, social, religious. Long before in vitro fertilization, the potential harm involved in the use (I mean that in the worst way) of surrogates was illustrated by the account of Abraham and Sarah and his use of the servant girl. (not that a properly formed academic would ever be open-minded enough to consider the cautions in that account, because unlike modern economics and its incredible predictive accuracy-faith is mere superstition)

Having seen this play out in the real world, where equations on the blackboard are tested and often found wanting–I can tell you there is a significant chance that marital dynamics will be adversely affected as the non biological parent wonders about the love and loyalty of the parent with genes in the game. While the techniques have changed, and now we have a nice commercial form of taking the girl into the tent-people have not-being what they are-will occasionally suffer “post purchase regret”. The interesting thing about infertility is that it can appear to be permanent, until its not. I had friend who tried and tried for ten years-but a month after starting adoption proceedings-the stick turned blue.

However, viewed through the typically mypoic lens of an academic-all these other considerations are subordinated- indeed rejected to economics (or as Don sees its dictates).

Funny though-Don rejects the term “baby selling” even as he stammers about voluntary exchange. If it’s not a sale, then why is cash exchanged or contracts signed. Any undergraduate taking an introductory business law class would recognize these elements as the indicia of a sale. Would you prefer womb rental? I am reminded of the injunction of a “rose by any other name”….

The economics profession has much to offer, and it should start by exorcising the demons of Keynesianism and Marxism from its ranks-where they still travel in great numbers and are afforded respect, rather than the contempt they so richly merit due to the waste and slaughter they’ve given the world. When that job is finished-then economists can start commenting on home and hearth as something other than just an opininated individual.

Jacobite August 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Folks are missing the true degeneracy in these cases. ‘Way back when one of the first of these cases went national, few observers seemed to note that the non-mom involved was not infertile. She simply didn’t want to be pregnant, but agreed to let her husband have a kid by paid third party. You can channel the Marquis de Sade and Jean-Baptiste Carrier, and you still wouldn’t push the envelope of my proposed beat-down of this sub-human, disgusting female. If you probe deep enough, Libertarians always end up fighting with the Left against normal human behavior. Watch the Libertarians in ’12 if the GOP puts up a social conservative. Balanced budgets will lose out every time to restrictions on perverts’ precious little quirks (the kind that used to put them front-and-center in side shows or on the gallows).

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