A year ago The View co-host Sherri Shepherd announced she and her husband Lamar Sally were going to have a baby using a surrogate. The procedure was to use Shepherd’s eggs and the womb of a stranger.
Shepherd said at the time that she had found “a drama-free uterus” and that “we’re putting in our eggs and Sal’s sperm and we’ll let you know how it progresses.”
It turns out not to have progressed very well either for a baby or for the marriage.
TMZ reported this week that Shepherd’s eggs and Sally’s sperm did not work and that she turned to another woman’s eggs and yet another uterus to have a baby. In the meantime, her marriage broke up and Shepherd has announced she doesn’t want to have anything to do with the unborn baby.
Shepherd has no biological connection to the unborn child. It was not her egg that was used, nor her uterus. Shepherd has filed for divorce in New Jersey, which does not recognize surrogacy agreements, so it would seem she is free and clear and can walk away from the child that she ordered up from a fertility clinic. She has said, “It is not my child. I’m not paying child support.”
The Shepherd case opens the door to the sometimes murky and completely unregulated world of “assisted reproductive technologies.” Critics charge that the process is tainted from beginning to end.
It starts with parents who cannot conceive and who believe they have a right to a baby. They go in search of eggs, sperm, or wombs, sometimes all three. At fertility clinics they browse through catalogues of sperm donors; college educated, white, blond hair, blue eyes, athletic, for instance, and then choose someone anonymously.
If they need eggs, they have to rely on clinics that have found young women who will allow themselves to be hyper-ovulated where they are shot with huge doses of hormones in order for their bodies to produce 10-15 eggs and then have them “harvested.” It is a painful and potentially dangerous process with long-lasting consequences for the donor.
Filmmaker Jennifer Lahl calls this “Eggploitation” which is the title of one of her documentaries showing how the young women are found and induced into the procedure. You will see ads for such women in the pages of Ivy League student newspapers. Ivy League eggs are considered among the best. Even the left calls such things the “commodification of human life.”
And then there are the rented wombs. A woman may be too old to carry a child, or the couple may be two men. A womb must be found and rented for 9 months. There are websites dedicated to matching young women with wombs to let and those who need them.
The whole process is remarkably expensive, upwards of $60,000, leaving hopeful yet sterile rich couples open to the charge of exploiting the poor for their eggs and wombs.
A number of experts in this field spoke to Breitbart News.
Besides making documentaries on this topic, Lahl is head of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network and a popular speaker on campuses, even liberal ones.
“The sad Sally-Shepherd surrogacy story points to an urgent need to prohibit these sorts of arrangements when it comes to baby-making,” Lahl says. “Cases like this should raise the public eyebrow and move our lawmakers to stop this practice. If only because of the children who are seen and treated as products to return or dispose of.”
Robert Oscar Lopez is a professor of English at California State University at Northridge. He runs a website called English Manif which is dedicated to children’s rights. By that he means many things including that children have a right to their biological mother and a father, something that surrogacy usually does not provide. He believes assisted reproductive technologies are exploitative of women and children.
“The behavior by Ms. Shepherd makes it clear that our country has emphasized adult rights and concerns so disproportionately that people don’t even think children have rights or interests at all,” Lopez says. “In a democracy based on people being created equally and having baseline rights merely by birthright, this is an enormous problem. Our republic can’t function if human beings are the objects of property rights until they become adults.”
Alana Newman was donor conceived and discovering that threw her life into turmoil. It also explained a lot to her. She always wondered why she was treated differently than her sister who was biologically conceived.
Newman unsuccessfully spent years trying to find her donor father. In the United States there is no legal recourse in finding donor fathers. It is completely anonymous. Donor conceived kids are left to search the web, send out letters, take out ads with such pathetic messages as “Are you XYTEX donor 2035?”
Besides simply wanting to know your familial history, Newman says there are serious medical reasons to know your father. Some maladies and diseases are genetic.
Newman runs a website called anonymousUs.org that allows donor conceived children to tell their often heartbreaking stories.
“Shepherd’s surrogacy fiasco is a testament to a point I’ve been trying to make regarding donor-conception for years,” Newman says. “That is, donor-conceived people are in fact not wanted like the fertility industry and popular media have us believing. The Cinderella Effect [where step children are more open to abuse and neglect that biological children] is a well-established phenomenon that tells us how important biology is in the quality of care a child receives. When marriages and domestic partnerships go sour, don’t expect non-biological ‘parents’ to act heroically in regards to the child just because they dropped some cash on its conception.”
It should be noted that Lahl, Newman and Lopez are not political conservatives; they are either of or from the left and each would ask these questions about the Shepherd case.
Who is the baby’s mother?
Is it Shepherd who has no biological connection to the unborn baby whatsoever? Is it the egg donor, who is likely anonymous? What about the woman who rented her womb? It’s not her baby.
So, who is the mother?
Lopez, Lahl and Newman would point out that surrogacy is the deliberate creation of a race of children with no mother or father and perhaps neither. The children are considered property, and when this is done, it becomes easy for the people who ordered the children, like Shepherd, to turn their backs.