What Price Is a Human Being Worth?

July 3, 2010 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A.

Executive Director

Look around at those you love.  What are they worth to you? My children have been worth a lot of time, energy, sleepless nights, messy clean-ups, and much, much more.  They are priceless to me, as children, relatives, and friends usually are.

This is not true of all people in all circumstances.  Consider the California couple who recently tried to sell their six-month-old baby in a Wal-Mart parking lot.  Their asking price was reportedly $25.  It became a blue-light special, however, when the police were notified by two concerned citizens.

Half a world away, wombs for rent in India may get an official green light if a recently proposed bill is made into law.  Surrogacy in India is legal but unregulated.  This bill endorses surrogacy for single persons and unmarried couples, so anyone with the cash is permitted to enter the commercial surrogacy market as a customer.  A report in the Hindustan Times reveals

A 2009 Law Commission report had described ART industry as “a Rs 25,000-crore pot of gold”. “Wombs in India are on rent which translates into babies for foreigners and dollars for Indian surrogate mothers,” the report had stated.

Women who are ages 21-35 may become surrogates.  They are permitted five children, including their own, according to this bill.   How that is to be enforced is unclear.   The Hindustan Times states of the surrogate mother,

She will have to relinquish all parental rights over the child in favour of commissioning parent/s.

What does the surrogate mother receive in return?

Clause 34(3) of the draft Bill specifically says that apart from all expenses involved, “the surrogate mother may also receive monetary compensation from the couple or individual, as the case may be, for agreeing to act as such surrogate.”

Satya Prakash , Hindustan Times, 21 June 2010

Severing the ties that come with an umbilical cord, I contend, are less like using a crowbar to extract a wallet from your pocket, and more like what F. W. Boreham described in his essay, “The Sword of Solomon” *:

. . . It may be true that half-a-sovereign and half-a-sovereign make a sovereign; it is obviously untrue that half-a-baby and half-a-baby make a baby.  Let the sword do its deadly work; let it cleave this baby into two parts; and half-a-baby plus half-a-baby will represent but the grim and gruesome mockery of a baby.  Two halves of a baby make no baby at all.

F. W. Boreham is not advocating infanticide; rather, his point in this essay is that sometimes, the math just doesn’t add up.  There are places in life where simple addition or subtraction do not work.  One of those places is the worth of children:  it cannot be expressed in dollars and cents (or any other currency).  These lessons from Boreham will be learned by those who try to put a price tag on a human being.  We can hope it will be learned sooner rather than later.

*From The Blue Flame (London:  Epworth, 1930), 29-30.  Quoted in Ravi Zacharias, Cries of the Heart (W Publishing Group, a division of Thomas Nelson: 1998, 2002), 164.