In the case of Shane Dawson and Ryland Adams, “Ten other children were created only to be cast aside because they were not ‘optimal.’”
The recent announcement by YouTubers Shane Dawson and Ryland Adams about the birth of their sons through surrogacy has reignited a complex debate surrounding the ethical, social, and legal aspects of surrogacy. This practice, while offering a solution to those unable to conceive naturally, opens a Pandora’s box of moral dilemmas.
The Case of Dawson and Adams
The surrogacy journey of YouTubers Shane Dawson and Ryland Adams, as publicly shared, casts a spotlight on the ethical labyrinth of modern surrogacy practices. Their process, from conception to birth, was chronicled with a transparency that, while ostensibly candid, raises profound moral and ethical questions.
Initially, the creation of their children began in a clinical setting, a stark departure from traditional notions of conception. “To attain the sperm to create the children, Dawson and Adams each masturbated alone in a clinical room that offered them pornographic magazines and videos as well as a chair covered in plastic.” This clinical and detached approach to the inception of life starkly contrasts with the intimate, personal nature traditionally associated with it.
In their videos, Dawson and Adams discuss their decision-making process with a casualness that belies the gravity of the situation. They describe their choice to implant Jet and Max, and not one of the other 10 embryos they had ‘commisioned’, with a disturbing levity. “I guess we’ll just do a boy of each,” Dawson is reported to have said. This statement, and their overall demeanor, suggests a troubling nonchalance towards the lives they were bringing into the world and those they were disregarding.
The couple’s surrogacy journey was not only a personal endeavor but also content for their YouTube channel, raising questions about the ethics of publicizing such a private process. “Dawson and Adams chronicled the entirety of the surrogacy process on Adams’ YouTube channel,” turning their journey into a spectacle for views and engagement. This public display further commodifies the surrogacy process, treating it as a form of entertainment rather than the serious, life-altering journey that it is.
Moreover, the costs associated with their surrogacy journey are indicative of the financial barriers inherent in this process. The substantial amount presumably paid by Dawson and Adams highlights the exclusivity and inaccessibility of surrogacy for many, reinforcing its status as a luxury for the affluent.
In a particularly disconcerting Twitter video, Shane Dawson and Ryland Adams’ conversation about selecting their children bears an unsettling resemblance to choosing pets rather than embracing the profound responsibility of parenthood. Their casual banter, akin to picking out dog breeds, exhibits a jarring lack of respect for the sanctity of life. This flippant attitude towards such a momentous decision not only trivializes the gravity of bringing a new life into the world but also underscores a broader societal issue: the commodification of human life in the era of advanced reproductive technologies. The video starkly exposes the ethical chasm that surrogacy, when approached without the due reverence and responsibility it demands, can engender. Such a cavalier approach to what should be a deeply considered and respectful process reflects a troubling trend in how the sacred act of creation is being transformed into a mere transaction, stripped of its emotional and moral dimensions.
Ethical and Moral Considerations
The process of surrogacy often involves the creation and subsequent disposal of multiple embryos, a practice that brings to the fore disturbing ethical and moral concerns. The case of Shane Dawson and Ryland Adams exemplifies this quandary. As per the original article, “Ten other children were created only to be killed, used for research, or frozen because they were not considered ‘optimal.’” This statement not only highlights the utilitarian approach to human embryonic life but also sparks a debate about the inherent value and rights of these early forms of human existence.
The concept of creating multiple embryos and then selecting the ‘optimal’ ones for implantation raises profound ethical questions. It forces us to confront the moral status of embryos and the implications of discarding those deemed less than perfect. The practice echoes the contentious issue of ‘designer babies,’ where genetic selection could lead to a future where children are designed to meet specific parental preferences, further complicating the ethical landscape.
Moreover, this practice underscores a fundamental disconnect between the advancements in reproductive technologies and the lagging ethical discourse surrounding them. While science has enabled us to manipulate the very beginnings of human life, our moral frameworks struggle to keep pace. This gap often leaves unaddressed questions about the rights of embryos and the responsibilities of those who create them.
In addition, the disposal or indefinite freezing of ‘non-optimal’ embryos represents a significant ethical dilemma. What are the moral obligations towards these embryos, and what does their fate say about our societal values? The ease with which these potential lives are discarded or suspended in a state of limbo reflects a broader societal desensitization to the sanctity of life at its earliest stages.
The ethical implications extend beyond the embryos to the surrogate mothers as well. The surrogate’s role in this process, often reduced to a contractual obligation, raises questions about the commodification of women’s bodies and reproductive capabilities. This commodification, coupled with the transactional nature of selecting and discarding embryos, paints a troubling picture of the current state of reproductive ethics.
The emotional and psychological ramifications for all parties involved in surrogacy are complex. For the surrogate mother, the process of carrying a child and then giving it up, often for financial compensation, can have long-lasting emotional effects. For the children born from surrogacy, questions about their origin and identity may emerge as they grow older.
Exploitation and Inequality
The case of Dawson and Adams also brings to light the socioeconomic dynamics of surrogacy. “Further, Dawson and Adams presumably paid well over $100,000 to create these children,” a sum that is unaffordable for many, making surrogacy a privilege of the wealthy. This economic disparity can lead to exploitation, especially of women from lower-income backgrounds.
Commercialization of Reproduction
The surrogacy industry is rapidly growing, valued at over $14 billion in 2022. This commercialization raises concerns about the reduction of human reproduction to a mere financial transaction, further dehumanizing the process.
While surrogacy offers a ray of hope for many who cannot conceive, its ethical and social implications cannot be ignored. The case of Shane Dawson and Ryland Adams serves as a microcosm of the larger issues at play in the surrogacy debate. It is imperative that we engage in a thoughtful discourse on the ethical, legal, and social dimensions of surrogacy, striving for a balance that respects the dignity of all human life.