Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Tuesday 09 March |
Saint of the Day: St. Frances of Rome
home iconLifestyle
line break icon

Sherri Shepherd Decides to Cancel Her Baby Order

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Gene Tarne - published on 07/14/14

Rejecting the child before his or her birth to a surrogate mother provokes lots of questions.

The efforts of the former co-host of "The View" to have a child—and the fallout from those efforts—give cause to again reflect on the Church’s teaching regarding IVF, the family, and what it means to bring children into the world.

First, the background. Shepherd and her husband, unable to conceive a child naturally,  turned to IVF using Shepherd’s own eggs. When that also failed to produce a child for them, they used a surrogate’s eggs, the husband’s sperm and a surrogate to carry the baby, thus leaving Shepherd herself with no genetic ties to the child.

But then her marriage broke down, with Shepherd accusing her husband of defrauding her into agreeing to have the child so he could then divorce her and sue for child support. According to media reports, Shepherd now “does not want to be considered a parent because she does not want to take financial responsibility” and that “she allegedly wants a judge to rule she has no parental rights for the baby due at the end of the month.”

Everyone instinctively understands when a husband and wife desire to have children and the duty parents owe their children to love them and raise them within in a loving and stable family. Infertility is heartbreaking when a husband and wife truly desire children.

Yet the desire for children is not paramount to the child himself or herself. Dignitas Personae teaches that such a desire for children “should not override the dignity of every human life to the point of absolute supremacy. The desire for a child cannot justify the ‘production’ of offspring, just as the desire not to have a child cannot justify the abandonment or destruction of a child once he or she has been conceived.”

While IVF may address this desire for children on the part of the adults, it fails to acknowledge and gives no consideration to the right of children to be raised in a stable, loving home by his biological parents. It affirms a mindset (conscious or not) that children are willed into being by parents and technology, rather than welcomed into life lovingly as gifts.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has stated that “Our ability to cooperate with God in generating a new human being is not just a bodily function. It is a personal gift from God—exclusively shared by husband and wife, who thereby share responsibility for bringing this new child into the world in a uniquely personal way. So while the desire to share that gift with each other and have a child is positive and natural, some means used to have a child revere and respect this great gift while others do not,” IVF being among the latter.

As the bishops further state:

“Some approaches to infertility clearly violate the integrity of the marital relationship. These introduce third parties to fulfill essential aspects of parenthood, by using eggs or sperm or even embryos from “donors” (who are often paid, and therefore more accurately described as vendors), or even by making use of another woman’s womb to carry the couple’s child. … The child resulting from these arrangements is not the fruit of the spouses’ commitment to procreate only with and through one another. In an important sense, the spouses have decided not to be fully the mother and father of their child, because they have delegated part of their role to others.”

The Shepherd IVF/surrogacy debacle is an all too sordid witness to this truth; both Shepherd and her spouse have indeed “decided not to be fully the mother and father of their child.” In fact, they have gone even further. Using IVF to produce a child for the sole purpose of fulfilling their desire to have a child, they now treat that child as an object they “bought” with the mother now wanting to return and have no part of (after all, her relation to the child was merely contractual) and the father allegedly having wanted to use the child as a means to extort money from the mother.

  • 1
  • 2
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Philip Kosloski
10 Mysterious things to know about guardian angels
Philip Kosloski
5 Important things to notice in a Catholic church
Philip Kosloski
10 Things you should know about St. Joseph
Philip Kosloski
7 Breathtaking miracles that can restore your faith in God
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope calls us to Abraham’s hope: Full text of address in Ur
Ziggurat of Ur
John Burger
Pope’s trip to Iraq is like a pilgrimage to a Holy Land
Pope in Iraq: Schedule and key events
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.