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Pope Francis isn’t completely wrong about surrogacy

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The pope calls surrogacy “despicable,” but is it? Experts unpack the real ethical issues around it

“Despicable,” Pope Francis called it recently during his annual address to the world’s ambassadors to the Vatican, urging for a global ban “to prohibit this practice universally.” What is this atrocious act, this thing that a year before he’d also called “inhuman and increasingly widespread?” It’s surrogacy, or the practice in which someone with a uterus agrees to gestate and deliver a baby on the behalf of other parents.

For those familiar with Catholic dogma, it’s not exactly a bombshell that the head of the church should affirm opposition to this particular reproductive advancement. (The Vatican also nixes in vitro fertilization.) But the harsh words, in which the pontiff warned against turning a fetus into “an object of trafficking,” struck like a fresh slap.

“There are people all over the world who have lovingly built families through surrogacy,” Barbara Collura, president and CEO of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, told USA Today in January, “and may feel the pope has discounted their family and the way they’ve chosen to build it.”

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