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LGBTQIA+ Catholic Group Says Agency, Broad Consultation Must Guide Church’s Approach to Surrogacy

January 10, 2024. In an address on January 9, 2024, Pope Francis called for a global ban on the practice of surrogacy. DignityUSA, that world’s oldest organization of Catholics working for justice, equality, and full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in the church and society, cautions that this “sweeping and simplistic” approach fails to distinguish between ethical and unethical acts.

“Certainly, there are many surrogacy situations in which women, especially poor women, are exploited, and their fertility is commercialized for the benefit of wealthy people,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA’s Executive Director. “We join the Pope in condemning surrogacy under any condition that takes advantage of desperation, where trafficking, force, or coercion are involved, or where women’s health and bodily autonomy are risked. We agree that such appalling situations violate human dignity and human rights and need to be outlawed worldwide.

“However, there are also situations in which women make affirmative choices to become surrogates. This is often done to help beloved family members or friends enlarge their families, or to enable people with fertility challenges to have biologically related children. In situations where the health, needs, and outcomes for all involved are negotiated, documented, and freely agreed to by all parties involved, and where all participate freely, we believe surrogacy can be a gift of stunning generosity. Indeed, this has already been true for many, including for some LGBTQIA+ people who desire to be parents,” said Duddy-Burke.

“We believe that women and others who can become pregnant should  have agency in making decisions about whether and how to bear children,” continued Duddy-Burke. “We also wonder to what extent people who have been involved in surrogacy agreements were consulted before the Pope issued this call.

“Surrogacy is a complex issue which must be considered from many angles, and through the lenses of diverse cultures and participant realities before proclamations like this are made. The political conversations surrounding surrogacy are often driven by agendas beyond protecting women. Solutions need to be nuanced, responsive to a range of situations, and supportive of the realities of diverse families,” said Duddy-Burke.

DignityUSA has been working for justice, equality, and full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ Catholics in the church and society since 1969.