Guest Post: Emina Melonic on False Wombs, Real Wounds

Emina Melonic joins us again to amplify a number of key issues dilated recently by another friend of Power Line, Daniel McCarthy, writing in The Spectator:

In a recent article in The Spectator, Daniel McCarthy reflects on some of the bioethical problems of our age: surrogacy and the frightening possibility of artificial wombs. He writes that “The technology [for artificial wombs] doesn’t exist yet, but there is already a market demand for gestation outside a conceiving mother’s womb, a demand that is met by surrogacy.”

We have been exposed to numerous stories of people (be they gay couples or women who can’t bring the baby to term) of literally using another woman as the receptacle, carrier, and a deliverer of the baby. This certainly takes the meaning “birthing person” to another level.

So far, these examples illustrate people who are physically or biologically unable to carry or give birth to children. This is already a serious bioethical problem, but what happens when women choose to have a surrogate because they deem the entire process either too painful or simply, cumbersome? In addition, as the society is supposedly progressing (more like hurtling into the dark abyss of nihilism), what kind of results are we expecting when or if women start to utilize artificial wombs? This is a “test tube baby” on metaphorical steroids!

If the technology keeps developing on such a trajectory, McCarthy notes that the reasons for choosing artificial wombs as a way of having a baby may “not be entirely selfish or hedonic.” The doctors may sell the idea as something beneficial to the baby; that it secures health and happiness. But what future does such a society even have?

There are several ethical issues within this process, and what is at the core of it is the changing of the very meaning of motherhood and love between a man and a woman. There is certain sacredness to the human body and inherent dignity. We function most successfully when we don’t try to go against nature (that is, the purpose of being fully human) and when we are in full concert with our biological state.

The society that is purely utilitarian, guided by relativism in which man is the measure of all things has chosen only one path, namely that of existential emptiness. In such a world, we are just brains in vats, seemingly unencumbered by the complexities of human life.

Much of this mindset is based on a need for extreme control and avoidance of pain. Women that are detached from the notion and reality of motherhood seek control over their lives. They prefer a successful career over being a mother. There is nothing wrong with making such a personal choice but such women need to understand the natural consequence of such an action. Maybe you can have it all, as some claim, but not “all” will have equal importance and eventually one thing will take precedence over the other.

Avoidance of pain and the endless seeking of convenience adds to the current bioethical problem. As McCarthy notes, “The sentimental attraction of nature will again confront the calculus of convenience. Not every woman will do what is easiest, but more and more will.”

This is not to say that people should go into the world and seek pain. That would make them masochists. But entwined with the pain of the birth and minor frustrations during the nine months of pregnancy is also a joy of a new life coming into being. What can we expect, however, from those who find no joy in motherhood, indeed in life itself? One wonders whether the same people who would choose a surrogate or an artificial womb are the same people who, in the end, wouldn’t be the primary caregiver to the baby but would utilize a nanny?

Convenience always has a price, and in this case, it is a loss of knowing what it means to be human. At this point in our society, some people tend to be distracted by the shiny and promising aspects of technology. In that distraction, one thing is neglected: a perennial question of who we are as human beings. It is not only important to reflect on and affirm our inherent dignity, it is essential for our survival. As much as I have no predictions or certainty of what will indeed happen in the future, I do know that we have to keep affirming the order of things.

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