Pope Francis on Surrogacy: ‘Children Aren’t Experiments’

The ‘science’ on surrogacy is advocacy and not science at all.


John Stonestreet

Shane Morris

In the last few years, the credibility of science or, more accurately, scientists, has taken more than a few hits. Take for instance the rush by many doctors, researchers, academics, and medical institutions to force transgender ideology on children. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Endocrine Society have both issued guidelines for medically transitioning minors. From the beginning, maverick scientists have called foul, pointing out that the safety and long-term effectiveness of such “treatments” had not been evaluated. It seems now that only real-world consequences for actual children can curb the enthusiasm for untested and misguided experimentation on kids.  

In 2022, the U.K.’s largest gender clinic announced its closure over a lack of evidence to support its ghoulish interventions. Shortly afterward, U.K. lawyer Tom Goodhead estimated that around 1,000 families would join in legal action against the clinic, claiming their children were “misdiagnosed and rushed into transitioning.” The first lawsuits against the American Academy of Pediatrics have also been filed by a child who grew up and regretted transitioning.  

Transgender “medicine” isn’t the only practice advanced as “scientifically proven” despite the absence of evidence. Even earlier, assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization and surrogacy were pushed on the public with little understanding of or concern for the safety and long-term consequences for women and children. Like transgender medicine, the line is that the “science says the kids will be fine.” Don’t buy it.  

Recently, the Heritage Foundation’s Emma Waters reviewed the available evidence about some of these technologies. “Despite what many experts want you to believe,” she writes, “we actually know very little about the impact of surrogacy on the long-term wellbeing of children and families.” As it turns out, babies gestated by a surrogate show a marked increase in preterm births, physical defects, and low weight. This is just what we know for certain, partly because we’ve been kept in the dark.  

As Waters explains, scholars who review the literature on surrogacy typically use studies that are outdated, small, short-term, or based on self-reporting by the “parents” who paid for the children. A frequently cited U.K. study “relied on the parents’ own assessment of the child’s wellbeing, not objective outcomes or the child him/herself.” Using that study as proof that surrogacy doesn’t harm children is kind of like asking students to grade their own exams. 

Waters suggests two major red flags about the current research: first, studies in which “the conclusions are too squeaky clean;” and second, studies whose “self acknowledged goal” is “showing that there are no differences between same-sex, natural, and artificially conceived families and the impact … on children.” In other words, these studies are advocacy, not science.  

Constructing better studies, Waters argues, will require tracking children over longer periods, having surrogates report their number of pregnancies, keeping tabs on who sells or donates eggs and sperm, and knowing who children born of surrogates are and who their biological parents are. As she warns, “There is a huge difference between ‘no harms’ and no *known* harms.” 

Still, even without that research, there are pragmatic and moral reasons to oppose the creation of children with the intent to implant them or place them with strangers. Children were designed to know their parents. Separation from the man and woman who made them is a tragedy. Arrangements like foster care and adoption respond to that tragedy, but conceiving children with the express purpose of separating them from their parents is very different. It creates the tragedy.  

Similarly, paying women to carry children for nine months and then forcing them to walk away as part of a commercial transaction ignores the intimacy and sanctity of that bond, as well as its ongoing, powerful effects on both carrier and baby.     

Pope Francis was recently crystal clear on this one, despite his confusing and misleading statements on other serious issues. In a recent speech to diplomats, he blasted surrogacy as “deplorable,” insisting it “represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child,” whom it turns into “an object of trafficking.” “A child,” he added, “is always a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract.” 

In this age of accelerating technology, and ideologues eager to wield it, the most vulnerable members of society need someone to hold so-called “experts” accountable and to ask the questions about human design, purpose, rights, and relationships that no study can answer. No matter how scientific sounding they are, claims that we can ignore God’s design for sex and the family are expressions of an anti-human worldview, not objective research. And that’s a very good reason to say “no” to this worldview’s ongoing demand for tiny test subjects.  

This Breakpoint was co-authored by Shane Morris. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to 


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Have a Follow-up Question?

Related Content