Pete Buttigieg is having a baby. The Transportation Secretary announced his exciting news last Tuesday through Twitter. “For some time, Chasten and I have wanted to grow our family,” Buttigieg began. “We’re overjoyed to share that we’ve become parents! The process isn’t done yet and we’re thankful for the love, support, and respect for our privacy that has been offered to us.” The announcement raises a few questions. How did “the process” overcome the biological hurdle that two men encounter when they wish to conceive? Why does Buttigieg, who denies the humanity of unborn babies up until the moment of birth, consider himself a parent when the “process” of gestation isn’t yet done? And what possessed Pete to believe that he would best protect his privacy by tweeting the news to his three-and-a-half million followers?
The announcement went viral, garnering congratulations from senators, governors, mayors, labor unions, the White House, journalists, and entertainers, among others — most liberal but some self-styled conservatives as well. And yet, amid the frenzy to affirm the goodness of Buttigieg’s fatherhood, some stubborn bioethical questions linger.
Since men cannot bear children, Buttigieg has become a father either through adoption or by borrowing the eggs and wombs of women. The Washington Post reports that the Transportation Secretary has pursued the former route and specifically sought to adopt an infant, removing from consideration the more complicated questions raised by the foster care system.
(Given the dearth of families willing to adopt older children, one might argue that any loving home — including those of single women, single men, same-sex couples, or even “throuples” — could offer an improvement over a state-run orphanage.) But in the United States, the demand for babies to adopt vastly outpaces the supply of babies up for adoption. For every baby put up for adoption in this country, there are as many as thirty-six couples waiting to adopt. The decision to give one of those babies to a single parent or same-sex couple robs that child of the opportunity to have both a mother and a father.
If the Washington Post got the story wrong, as it has been known on occasion to do, then Pete Buttigieg became a father by purchasing a woman’s eggs, conceiving in a laboratory, and implanting the baby in another woman’s womb — a possibility that carries even darker bioethical implications. In most cases, this clinical process involves the creation of multiple “back-up” embryos to freeze in perpetuity or destroy upon the successful implantation of a baby in the womb. It also entails creating a new life with the express intent to deprive him of his mother.
But babies need their mothers. They need their fathers too. Contrary to fashionable orthodoxies, men and women are in fact different. They are not interchangeable but rather complement one another, and they bring different virtues and perspectives to the raising of children. Misfortune sometimes robs a child of his father or his mother or both. But mishap in a fallen world does not justify perpetrating offenses ourselves, particularly on the most vulnerable people among us.
Until recently, Pete Buttigieg’s sexual identity would have thwarted his natural longing to have a child. Today, changes in technology, law, and attitudes permit him to fulfill both. Society celebrates the satisfaction of Buttigieg’s desires. Of course it does — he seems so happy. But one cannot shake the nagging sense that one ought also to consider the interests of the baby.
These are not merely private matters. The family is the basic political unit, open to public scrutiny and tinkering since time immemorial. It takes a village, after all, to raise a child. Our society’s recent, radical redefinition of marriage and the family relied less upon public persuasion than upon a dubious assertion of rights — an edict from a divided Supreme Court rather than a law passed by Congress. As we consider the consequences of this social revolution, we must consider other, more substantial rights — affirmed by authorities as diverse as the United Nations and the Catholic Church — such as the natural right of a child to his mother and his father.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.