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Does Pelosi Believe a Baby Has a Right to a Mother?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared on CNN with Anderson Cooper on Monday, she started the interview with an effusive statement about Cooper's "new baby."

"Well, first let me say how happy I am about your new baby. How lovely!" she said.


"Thank you," said Cooper.

She then told him: "And as you now are a father, you see how important it is to keep the world safe, for the children."

How did she learn Cooper had become a father? Perhaps she had seen his announcement on national television.

"As a gay kid, I never thought it would be possible to have a child," Cooper said on CNN on April 30.

This, apparently, was a concession to basic biology.

But basic biology no longer seems to be a governing factor in deciding who becomes a "father" or "mother."

"And I am so grateful for all those who paved the way -- the doctors and nurses and everyone involved in my son's birth," Cooper said in his on-air statement.

"Most of all, I am eternally grateful to a remarkable surrogate who carried Wyatt, watched over him lovingly, tenderly, and gave birth to him," Cooper said.

"It's an extraordinary blessing, which she and all surrogates give to families who can't have children," he said.

"My surrogate has a beautiful family of her own," Cooper continued. "An amazingly supportive husband. I am also so thankful for all the support that they have given Wyatt and me.

"She has kids of her own and I appreciate their support as well," said Cooper.

As USA Today then reported, "Cooper has shared he plans to co-parent Wyatt with his former partner."


"This is somebody I was involved with for 10 years," USA Today reported Cooper told Howard Stern in an interview. "He's a great guy. We didn't work out as a couple, but I want somebody -- when I was a little kid, it was just my mom and my brother. My mom was not the most parental person and I wished some adult, after my dad had died, had stepped in and been like, 'You know what? I'll take you to a ballgame.' Or 'let's go out to lunch every now and then and just talk.'"

So, the basic facts of how Cooper became a father, as he himself explained it, are: A woman, who is married to another man and who has children, carried a baby for Cooper as a "surrogate." When the baby was born, Cooper took custody. His "former partner" will serve as "co-parent."

This inspired the Speaker of the House to congratulate Cooper on national television.

Now leave aside the specific case of Anderson Cooper, and look at the issue of surrogacy more generally.

Is a world in which unmarried people have babies gestated for them by surrogates a better place for children?

In New York, the state Senate passed a bill last year to legalize the "paid surrogacy" of babies. The state assembly, however, did not pass the bill. As reported by The New York Times, that left New York as an "outlier" in the American surrogacy business.


"There are two forms of surrogacy: gestational surrogacy, where the surrogate is not genetically related to the child; and traditional surrogacy, where the surrogate uses her own egg to conceive a child," the Times reported on April 18. "(Traditional surrogacy is far less common than gestational surrogacy and is often prohibited.) The New York bill aimed to legalize gestational surrogacy."

"For supporters, it was a no-brainer," said the Times. "Embracing surrogacy was beneficial to infertile couples and meaningful to the L.G.B.T. community, they argued. And it is already permitted in 47 other states."

Then there are the financial arrangements.

"According to a report from Columbia Law School," said the Times, "fees for surrogates in the United States vary considerably and are estimated to be between $20,000 to $55,000, on average.

"Typically," said the Times, "the intended parents will also pay for the surrogate's medical care, attorney, travel expenses and health insurance, among other costs, which can amount to as much as $100,000 or more."

"Donor eggs are often sold in groups of half a dozen, and priced around $15,000."

An unmarried man -- or a man married to another man -- would generally need two women to carry out a "paid surrogacy" such as those described by the Times. He would need one woman to provide the eggs and another to provide the womb.


When a child is conceived and gestated through such an arrangement on behalf of a single or same-sex married male, however, neither the biological mother nor the gestational mother would be the legal mother.

The baby would either have one father and no mother -- if the man was unmarried -- or two "fathers" -- if the man was "married" to another man.

In either case, the baby is motherless.

And denying this child a mother is the result of a carefully executed plan.

Yet every baby ever conceived has a God-given right to a mother and a father -- just as every father and mother have a duty to nurture and protect every child they conceive.

Deliberately denying a baby a mother or father does that child wrong.

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of 

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