Toronto, May 2, 1989 -- The practice of surrogate motherhood is offensive and unacceptable because it turns children into "commodities", an Anglican Church task force says. The report takes issue with a recent Ontario Law Reform Commission report which recommended procedures to regularize the practice.
Task force members will present their report at a news conference Tuesday, May 2 at 9:30 a.m. at 135 Adelaide Street East (Anglican Diocese of Toronto).
In surrogate motherhood, when a husband and wife cannot have children naturally, the husband may hire the services of another woman. This so-called "surrogate" mother is then artificially inseminated with the husband's sperm.
"Human beings must be treated as ends, not means," says the task force report. "The humanity of women must not be subordinated to their reproductive capacities. Nor may children be deliberately created for sale. These two grave ethical flaws are inherent in surrogate motherhood. The buying and selling of human beings, for whatever purpose, incorporates the evil present in slavery and is just as offensive."
The report recommends that contracts for surrogate motherhood be unenforceable in Canada and that provincial laws governing adoption be reviewed to ensure that adoption procedures cannot be abused to bring about surrogate motherhood arrangements. "If provincial adoption laws cannot ensure that surrogacy is banned in Canada," the report says, "we recommend that federal legislation be enacted making it a criminal offence to recommend, initiate, arrange or agree to the bearing of a child in a surrogacy arrangement for payment in cash or in kind." The several recommendations in the report will be presented for discussion in June to the General Synod, the church's highest legislative body.
The task force was authorized in May 1987 by the church's national executive council. Its members include: Rt. Rev. John Baycroft, Suffragan Bishop of Ottawa; the Rev. Bruce Alton, Trinity College; Phyllis Creighton, editor, University of Toronto Press; Marsha Hewitt, professor, Trinity College; and the Rev. Don Thompson, professor, Centre for Christian Studies.
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For further information, contact: Doug Tindal, Director of Communications, (416) 925-9192 ext. 286 (bus.), (416) 335-8349 (res.)
December 01, 2009 - An interview with the Rev. Patricia Sawo, a church leader and mother living with HIV in Kenya inspired Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to entitle his World Aids Day Message A Space for Hope. Patricia says of her church "My congregation knows about my status and people in my church know that this is a place where, if they come with HIV, they can be loved." The Archbishop says "when the Church is doing its job, it is providing space for people to face themselves, to be themselves, and to cope with the future."
On my trip to Burundi in February, I saw numerous examples of that kind of space. Let me cite just two. In the heart of the city of Bujumbura there is an HIV/AIDS clinic. Above the main entrance of the administration building is a sign stating that the building was renovated though a gift of the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) of the Anglican Church of Canada. That gift inspired other churches in the city to make contributions to expand the services of this clinic which serves teens and young adults who have been orphaned through AIDS. Most of them live on the street and their life is very rough. The clinic is a haven where they can learn about HIV/AIDS, get tested and if necessary receive treatment and counseling. As the Archbishop says, they can "face themselves, be themselves, and cope with the future."
Up in the hills, "in the bush" as Burundians say, in the village of Bitare, I and Cheryl Curtis (Executive Director of PWRDF) and Maureen Bailey (Youth Council, PWRDF) were invited to assist local people in laying the foundation stone for a new HIV/AIDS clinic. It was very humbling to kneel down and share in that work as hundreds of people looked on and sang and prayed for God's blessing on this project. The building is now complete and providing services to hundreds of people in Bitare and a number of surrounding villages. Individuals and families are feeling support and care. Lives are being changed and hope is rising like the glory of a new day.
This coming Sunday, the second in Advent, I ask that throughout the Church, prayers of special intent for those living with HIV/AIDS be included in the Prayers of the People. Pray for their caregivers and for their doctors and nurses and clergy. Pray especially for the work of the Mother's Union in Africa and their deep and steadfast commitment to helping those who are living with AIDS and those who have been widowed and orphaned through AIDS, and those who are caring for their grandchildren. Pray for those engaged in education about healthy sexuality and the prevention of AIDS. And as we pray for the eradication of the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, pray also for that "space" the Church is called to provide where people can be welcomed and free to face themselves and be themselves without fear of rejection; where through loving care and support they can cope with their future. This calling is after the very example of Our Lord who reached out and "touched" (Mark 1: 40-41) the sick with love and mercy.
I encourage one and all to pray, to support the continuing work with HIV/AIDS, and to stand with all those who are pressuring world leaders, in the words of one of the Millennium Development Goals, "to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases." I issue this call in the name of him whose Advent sets us free, whose love brings healing and hope to all.