Domenico Dolce said, “You are born to a mother and a father, or at least that’s how it should be. I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog.”
Let’s start by mentioning the obvious: nothing about how a baby is conceived, or by whom it is raised, makes it more or less “synthetic” or chemical than any other kind of baby.
Let us also pull out the yarn of hypocrisy in the unimaginative term “rented uterus.”
It is entirely possible for a surrogate mother to have more depth to her character, as well as a richer personal story bonding her to the baby’s parents, than a couple that conceives accidentally, naturally, while high on drugs and booze. Nature doesn’t discriminate, helping along only those conceptions that will be followed up with loving attendant childcare; therefore, though nature may act as a reference point in our ethics, it is certainly not the foundation of all morality. It never was and it never will be.
It is precisely that we don’t judge the quality of people’s choices by how “natural” they are that makes us human. Nature isn’t necessarily all-good; often, it’s red in tooth and claw and one of its rules is “eat or be eaten”. I’d personally rather be born to the family that plans every step of the “synthetic” conception, than to the family that is completely unprepared to care for me.
When the mother and the father are dirt-poor or unfit, will the “that’s how it should be” argument suddenly materialize as the provisions that are missing from life?
And don’t get me started about children conceived through rape. If artificially inseminated children are synthetic children, are children conceived of rape “children of hate”?
What about children conceived in loveless marriages of convenience? Are their mothers’ uteruses rented wombs too?
Where do we draw the line and stop the judgment? At children born outside of wedlock? But why stop there? Why not hate every uterus and every child conceived and born into a world where natural resources are running out, greed confines many to poverty, greed spurns war and we’re all trapped in oppressions that are intimately linked to the very heterosexist system whereby children are conceived? Where does the judgment end?
That said, I’d also like to advocate for something else. In a world where it’s becoming easier to “design” babies, can we please adopt existing ones instead (I ask understanding that sometimes it’s a difficult process)? Many people argue that people want their own flesh and blood to love. But just as babies are not necessarily better off if conceived naturally, so, too, is love not measured or best contained by the traditionality of the particular family arrangement in which it’s found.
I personally believe there is more practical love expressed when someone takes an existing baby from desperate circumstances, than there is when someone brings a new baby into the world. I believe there is more practical love expressed when someone cares for someone totally unrelated to them, to whom they have no obligation. “People want to spread their own DNA,” people often remind me. There is nothing wrong with that except that in a hundred years, your DNA won’t be yours anymore; it will be the earth’s, and you will belong to the Ages.