Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Minnesota: the next breeding ground for baby selling and reproductive prostitution?

Statement by Anna Kroushl at April 8 Surrogacy Press Conference

My name is Anna Kroushl. I was a surrogate mother and I very strongly oppose Minnesota's gestational surrogacy bill. My reasons are many.

In 2001, I contracted with a couple in Illinois to produce a child for them in exchange for financial compensation. I was newly divorced, had 3 very young children and was living with my parents at the time. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to help a childless couple as well as help my family get back on our feet and into a home of our own.

In July of 2002, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Regardless of all the mental conditioning I did before and during the pregnancy, telling myself that this child was not mine and she was created for this couple, my body did not believe it. It did not believe what my mind told it because the very concept of conceiving and gestating a child with the specific intention of giving it away flies in the face of human nature itself. One does not overcome the natural instincts of motherhood that have been fashioned from millions of years of conception, gestation and childbirth of the human race with the man-made concept of gestational surrogacy.

Growing another human being within your own body is the most intimate and sacred of all the human experiences and it is in this very intimacy that mother and child are bonded. Through a series of events, emotional experiences and hormonal reactions, both mother and child are inimitably hardwired to respond to one another. The hormonal dance of motherhood is beautiful and complex. It is perfect and this perfection has existed for as long as there has been a human race. The genetic make-up of the child makes no difference to the infant or the gestating mother’s body. All of the same hormones such as oxytocin - the bonding hormone - flood the mother’s body upon birth and the milk she produces is the perfect nutrition for that specific infant at that specific time. The infant knows her voice and prefers it to all others. She knows her smell and taste and prefers it to all others as well. Mother and child are uniquely imprinted to each other.

To the gestational mother’s body – that child is hers and to remove her child from her after birth feels like a death to that mother’s body….and often times to her mind as well.

I oppose this bill because it supports the objectification of the gestating mother. She is merely a vessel, a womb, and a gestational machine that produces a product for which she is paid.

Gestational surrogacy commodifies and objectifies the children born of these arrangements. In many instances, gametes are purchased and in all instances wombs are rented. It reduces the child to a purchased, manufactured product. Nowhere in this bill do I find the rights of the child being addressed.

It takes the most intimate and reverable act known to man and reduces it to contracts and compensation, biological functions and body parts.

Gestational surrogacy has the distinct potential to exploit not just lower income women, but also middle class women and families who have become inundated with debt. The agencies that advertise to entice women into gestational surrogacy arrangements always make it look like it is an attractive win-win situation. $25,000 compensation and make a childless couples’ dream come true! They make it seem like the perfect stay-at-home way to get back on your feet doing something your body already knows how to do.

Unfortunately, no amount of psychological testing or counseling will ever prepare a woman for what it feels like to have the baby you have just gestated and birthed taken away from you upon said birth. Nothing could ever adequately prepare a woman for those biologically encoded feelings of loss and devastation.

This gestational surrogacy bill legalizes and promotes reproductive prostitution. Money exchanged for reproductive services is no different than money exchanged for sexual services. Both acts use a part or parts of the woman’s body for a specific amount of time for a specific amount of money. Minnesota has laws in place to protect women from accepting money for sexual favors because this financial element is coercive and exploitative. The money exchanged in both situations causes people to do what they ordinarily would not do if compensation were removed.

Sexual prostitution is a crime in Minnesota for both prostitute and client. Why, then, is perfectly legal for a woman to rent out her womb for 9 months but illegal for her to rent out her vagina by the hour? The 40-week experience of gestating a child is 1000 times more intimate than the singular act of sexual intercourse and its integrity is in dire need of protection.

This bill promotes the intentional fragmentation of motherhood and does nothing to maintain its deserved integrity and sanctity. Gestational surrogacy not only promotes the destruction of embryos, but it also promotes the unconscionable act of selective reduction.

I have sat and listed while many a gestational surrogate has recounted in horror their selective reduction experience. They signed contracts to allow a certain amount of embryos to be transferred into their uterus and agreed to submit to selective reduction procedures to reduce to twins or a singleton, but after seeing the fetuses on the ultrasound screen, they changed their minds. After being reminded that they would be in breech of contract if they refused to submit to the procedure, they went through with it. One woman I know was told to “shut up and quit crying” because it made it more difficult for the doctor to inject the fetal sac with saline solution.

She, and many others, found this experience so traumatic that they still have nightmares and exhibit symptoms of Past Traumatic Stress Disorder years after the procedure was done.In gestational surrogacy, the woman’s body no longer belongs to her – it belongs to the contract she signed.

Surrogacy has taken something very precious and irreplaceable from me and from my family. Surrogacy has destroyed a part of our souls. If one more woman and one more family have to go through the pain that we did, then that is one woman and one family too many.

Please, veto this bill.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I admire Anna's courage and I hope she continues to tell her story, her experiences and her feelings.