In her column this month, Miss Prestwich has collected a number of questions on surrogate motherhood she has received over the last few months.

What exactly is a surrogate mother?

A surrogate is someone who is a deputy or a substitute.  A surrogate mother is a woman who carries someone else’s developing child in her womb.  When this is done for money it is called “womb leasing.”  The term “surrogate,” strictly speaking, only applies when the embryo which is transferred to the woman’s uterus, is the genetic child of two other people.  In the cases where a woman agrees to be artificially inseminated, and carry the baby so conceived for others, she is in fact the genetic mother of that child.  It is her baby.  Such a mother is sometimes called a “partial surrogate.”

How do Christian Churches, other than Roman Catholic, view surrogate mothering?

Surrogacy has been widely and strongly condemned by Christian Churches around the world.  The Canadian Anglican Church at its General Synod, June 20, 1989, called surrogate motherhood a “dehumanizing practice” which reduces human life to a “commodity.”  The Synod called on the federal and provincial governments to make the practice illegal (though it vetoed part of a resolution which would make it criminal).  The report, presented by a study committee, said:  “The human dignity of a child is violated when he or she is treated as an object of sale.”

What are the views of the Jews?

The Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth, Lord Immanuel Jakobovits is strongly condemnatory, both of surrogacy and of donor artificial insemination.  In a statement from his office in London he said:  “To use another person as an `incubator,’ and then take from her the child she carried and delivered for a fee is a revolting degradation of maternity and an affront to human dignity.”

Speaking of artificial insemination by donor (AID), the Chief Rabbi said that, “by reducing human generation to stud-farming methods, AID severs the link between procreation of children and marriage, indispensable to the maintenance of the family as the most basic and sacred unit of human society . . . The generation of children would become arbitrary and mechanical, robbed of those mystic and intimately human qualities which make man a partner with God in the creative propagation of the race.”

Not all Jews are as orthodox as the Chief Rabbi and some are on record as supporting surrogacy, but only in very rare cases, in exceptional circumstances, and under stringent controls.

What are the ‘mom houses’ in the United States?

According to Right to Life of America president, Dr. J. Willke, `mom houses’ are residences to which a woman can go after her baby is born.  Whether she keeps the baby or not, she can live there until she can get a clearer view of her future, find a job and a place to live.  Girls and women who have given up their babies for adoption are counseled and helped.  Those who keep their babies have the opportunity to learn `mothering’ skills.  They also know where to find help if needed in the future.

There is a comparable home near Toronto, and others elsewhere, but there is a need for many more in Canada.  Women need help after the baby is born as well as before.  They need to be loved and consoled; there is a whole field here for pro-life service.