22 January 2018
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Children are not commodities; commercial surrogacy a form of human trafficking

TODAY
12 Jan 2018

The writer of the letter, “Preventing gay father from adopting surrogate child ‘does not benefit S’pore’” (Jan 9), appears to assume that the purpose of adoption is meant to serve utilitarian goals.

This is at odds with the raison d’etre of adoption, which is to help children find the family they need, not help adults get the children they want.

Children are not commodities, but bearers of fundamental human rights.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child — to which Singapore is a party — mandates that “the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration” in a system of adoption.

The needs of children trump the desires of adults.

Article 35 of the Convention requires state parties to “take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent the abduction of, the sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form”.

All forms of surrogacy commodify children, deconstruct motherhood, and intentionally sever the bond between mother and child by treating women as incubators. They bypass the stringent criteria laid down in adoption procedures intended to safeguard the best interests of children.

The practice of commercial surrogacy opens the door to exploitation of financially vulnerable women at the hands of the wealthy, including women from developing countries. It degrades and demeans women’s bodies as “wombs for rent”.

Commercial surrogacy is also a form of human trafficking, involving the buying and selling of children.

As District Judge Shobha Nair pointed out in her judgment, this is at odds with the principles of the Adoption Act, which prohibits the giving or receiving of any payment or reward in consideration of adoption. It would be wrong use the court to sanction a commercial surrogacy arrangement through adoption.

The good of the country is not served by sacrificing the needs of the vulnerable for the desires of the rich and powerful.

Singapore’s future is best secured by protecting our children, by upholding their fundamental rights including the right to know and be cared for by a father and a mother, as far as possible.

Where this is not possible, society should create a wholesome environment where every child can succeed and fully assume his or her responsibilities within the community.

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