I got into a discussion recently with a friend of mine, and it eventually turned to surrogacy and his ambivalence toward it. When I inquired, he said that his reservations were due to his respect for the environment and his concern about over-population. As an ecologist, I can understand this point of view. Mind you, this same person drives an SUV, has a huge house and regularly leaves appliances on instead of flipping a switch. He also does some great things from an environmental perspective, but this is still a person who has a child and has a sizable ecological footprint. Needless to say, my perception that he was calling me a hypocrite stung quite a bit.
It stung for a reason- his explanation for his feelings were a canard, quite frankly. Of course over-population is a problem, but so is over consumption by individuals, and he's guilty of his fair share of that. But if we stick to over-population and surrogacy, we're left with possibly the smallest way to impact the natural increase of the human population that exists. Surrogacy makes up less than 1% of live births in the US today. Making surrogacy illegal or prohibitively restricted would cause a change in the birth rate by a pittance. However, unplanned pregnancies in the US (which includes my friend's daughter and grandson, and my own son) account for approximately 50% of all live births in the US. Changing that number would do far more good without the question the human rights and ethics entering the equation.
It was a very difficult discussion, and neither of us felt totally comfortable afterward, but I think it was worth having. We, as a species, are at a turning point right now, I feel. We can either learn to get along and respect our differences as we go forward, or we can continue the old ways of discrimination and demonizing the other. If we can set human rights as definitively a top priority, then we'll be doing much better than we are now, and there's a chance we can make it. If we can't- if we decide that competition is still more important than co-operation- then we're done. If we acquiesce our humanity, then we don't deserve to continue. I feel myself turning more into a cynical nihilist in my old age. I really dislike the people that promote this change in me.