What is a mother? For the traditional nuclear family, this question is simple to answer. When discussing IVF, gamete donation or surrogacy, the answer becomes more complicated. This year the Legislature is looking at several bills on the topic of surrogacy and parenthood.

The South Dakota legislature recently considered two bills that deal with this important issue and made the right decision regarding both.

SB137 died on the Senate floor with a vote of 15 to 20. This bill makes children the subject of a contract, which commodifies them. It places the desires of adults before the needs of children. Thankfully, this harmful piece of legislation has been struck down.

HB1311 passed out of House committee, which is the first step toward passing it into law. This bill says that each time someone voluntarily terminates parental rights, they should use the adoption protections. Children born through a surrogacy arrangement should be provided the exact same protections as adopted children. We should always focus on the best interest of the child, and this bill ensures that we do.

The legislature’s decision to kill SB137 and advance HB1311 is excellent news for the pro-life community. Commercial surrogacy is dangerous and bad for children for a number of reasons.

In a surrogate pregnancy, an embryo is created in a dish and the newly formed child is inserted into the uterus of the surrogate mother, who will ultimately give birth to the child. In the commercial surrogacy process the idea of mother is split into three different people, and the child is intentionally separated from one or both of their mothers, causing tremendous pain and suffering for the child throughout their life.

Parents have a natural right to their child, and a child has the natural right to their parents. There are serious consequences associated with infringing upon these rights and tampering with the natural order.

Studies show that maternal separation is a major physiological stressor for the infant and even brief maternal deprivation can permanently alter the structure of the infant brain. Many adoptees argue that their “primal wound” of maternal separation manifested as depression, abandonment issues, and emotional problems throughout their lives. It hindered their attachment, bonding, psychological health, self-esteem, and future relationships. When we ask “What is a mother?” these harms are a few examples of what happens when we get the answer wrong.

In addition to these harms, it’s worth noting that only 7% of children created in a lab will be born alive. Most will perish in forgotten freezers, won’t survive “thawing,” fail to implant, be discarded if they’re non-viable or the wrong sex, be “selectively reduced,” or be donated to research. These are innocent lives that have been stripped of their rights simply because of how they were formed.

Children are not commodities to be bought and sold. Their rights and needs are more important than the desires of adults. Thankfully, our lawmakers have recognized this and are preventing the practice from spreading in South Dakota.

We must continue to spread awareness about the dangers associated with commercial surrogacy and stand up for the rights of all children, regardless of how they were conceived.


UPDATE: On February 17, HB1311 failed on the House floor by a vote of 29-38.


Interested in learning more? Watch this video of Katy Faust speaking to Legislators earlier this year.