California Catholic Daily exclusive.

Early this week (May 22) I was calling a Southern California business that recruits young women to carry fertilized eggs to birth.

The woman I was calling had a name like Amber, but she spoke with a Chinese accent. She apologized for the accent. I told her not to worry about the accent, but that I, owner of a small company, could not continue to do business with her.

I wasn’t paying close attention while we built a website for the surrogacy firm, but there was the name of the business in our list of contracts. The website that we built for them was full of soft pastels and cute babies.

Amber spent 30 minutes explaining several things. First, how much they value the fertilized embryos as precious. She said yes, these embryos come from in-vitro fertilization. Asked what they do with the extras, she said they go to a genetic screening, whereby they are rated good-good, good-fair, fair-fair, and of course they screen for Down’s Syndrome, since no one wants a baby with abnormalities.  They pick the best to implant.

The ones who are not implanted into the surrogate are frozen and put into storage. I asked how long they might be in storage. She claimed that the technology came after the 1990s, so there aren’t so many stored.

Her main argument for the worth of this surrogacy business was how happy the families are to have a new baby. Most of her clients are 35-45-year-olds from China, where surrogacy is illegal, so the older couples there who can’t bear children pay $140,000 to get a baby from this company.

“You have to see the glow on a Chinese mother’s face, when she sees her child for the first time, “ Amber proclaimed.

Another advantage is how much good the surrogate mother gets out of the arrangement. The typical payment for her is $50,000. “That gives her a chance to pay for college or make a down payment on a house. Houses are so expensive in California.”

By then I was ready to throw up.

Amber continued. “South California is a very good place for this business. The weather is so nice, compared to China. And the laws compared to other states make it so the surrogate mother cannot claim the child is hers, unlike other states. South California makes it easy for our business.”

After 30 minutes of this, I told her she had done a good job making the defense, but I could not continue because of moral principles. She asked if I would come to visit her clinic or if her director could call me. I demurred but gave her my email address.

The next day (this morning) I realized I had forgotten to ask if the Chinese families got boys, since it is possible to screen for sex. The killing – or sending off to permanent storage – of all the little girls couldn’t have been something California politicians wanted.