One year after Roe v. Wade was overturned, and as right-wing media have scrambled to find a unified position on reproductive rights to force through the legal system, some are testing out surrogate pregnancy as a possible target.
Right-wing media personalities, particularly those from The Daily Wire, have recently denounced surrogacy as “evil,” often relying on the homophobic and sexist belief that men cannot care for children as women can, and that surrogacy means depriving children of their biological mother.
Surrogacy exists as an option for people who are unable to have biological children, including those who struggle with infertility, whose lives could be seriously endangered by a pregnancy, and LGBTQ couples unable to have biological children together. While attacks on surrogacy are not new — it has been debated in the United States for decades, often regarding the health and rights of surrogate mothers — conservatives have seemingly entered the debate now in order to fuel a certain post-Roe, decidedly anti-LGBTQ mission to allegedly protect the nuclear family.
This pushback ties into a larger trend of right-wing media attacking non-heteronormative and/or egalitarian relationships and pushing furiously for their vision of a moral society, which does not include surrogacy, hormonal birth control, IVF, no-fault divorce, single motherhood, working women, or women who choose to not have children.
This came into painful view at Turning Point USA’s Young Women’s Leadership Summit in early June, where young, prominent right-wing media personalities including Candace Owens, Alex Clark, Charlie Kirk, and Benny Johnson preached to high school and college-aged women that they needed to put their career aspirations on hold, that hormonal contraceptives are dangerous and unnatural, that daycare is harmful for children, and that being a wife and mother should be the ultimate goal in their lives.
There is no space left for parenthood achieved outside this framework; anything else is deemed immoral and dangerous. As surrogacy is a pathway for those who do not fit neatly into the model, it must be wrong.
Attacks from The Daily Wire
In 2022, on his October 4 show, Matt Walsh called surrogacy a “morally horrific practice” and called gay men going through the process “narcissists.” He described “commercial surrogacy” as “a barbarous practice,” “a moral crime against both women and children,” and “dehumanizing” for surrogate mothers whose “reproductive capacity is put under contract.”
Walsh argued that claiming same-sex couples have a right to biological parenthood is saying that they “have a right to a woman’s body, which is exactly the sort of thing that the left is always screaming about.”
In February 2023, Walsh doubled down and called surrogacy “a deeply evil practice” that is “never in the best interest of the child” but done to “satisfy” a couple’s “own desires.”
In July 2022, one month after the Dobbs decision, Michael Knowles said that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten, had a child through surrogacy “with the intention to deprive that child of his natural mother.” He added that Buttigieg “isn’t really married” and is having children so he and his husband “can feel more like they’re in a real marriage.”
Knowles, who recently expressed his wish to return to the conservatism of the Middle Ages, also called surrogacy “terribly, terribly evil” on his March 21 show, saying that the argument for “gay surrogacy” is that “you don't really need women in society.” He said that “we should outlaw” this “grave evil.”
At Turning Point USA’s Young Women’s Leadership Summit, Candace Owens attacked singer Lance Bass for his choice to have children via surrogacy after he described the difficulties he has had connecting with his children. According to Owens, Bass “purchased a woman’s womb for him and his gay husband.” In response to Bass’ claim that the children had initially connected with his mother more than him, Owens said, “The kid knows that that’s a woman.”
In May, Matt Walsh addressed Khloé Kardashian’s comments about her own experience with surrogacy, including that “the transactional process” made her feel “really guilty.” Walsh said that “surrogacy feels transactional because it is transactional,” and that she had “used another woman’s body as an incubator.” Walsh then scolded Kardashian, “You did this all for the sake of your vanity and for convenience, and that’s why you feel those pangs of guilt and shame.”
Owens also discussed Kardashian’s comments, saying that “there’s something deeply demonic about surrogacy.” She asked, “How are we allowing this to take place?”
Attacks beyond The Daily Wire
Turning Point USA’s Alex Clark, who has been on a determined misinformation campaign against hormonal birth control since at least 2022, also responded to Kardashian’s comments, arguing in an op-ed on the TPUSA website that “surrogacy always places a burden on the child, it always removes at least one, but at times both, biological parents from the child’s life.”
Clark called back to a 2022 interview with Katy Faust, founder of Them Before Us, an organization that describes itself as “a global movement defending children’s right to their mother and father.” They had discussed the “dark details surrounding surrogacy and IVF that are rarely mentioned.”
One America News Network’s Kara McKinney has attacked surrogacy on her show, The Tipping Point, multiple times. In March 2022, McKinney compared the “evil means” of surrogacy to “wife kidnapping” as she and The American Conservative’s Declan Leary attacked right-wing podcast host Dave Rubin after he announced he and his husband were expecting two children via surrogates. According to Leary, the children will “be deprived of the actual experience of the motherhood of either the biological mother or the surrogate mother,” and McKinney compared this to women being kidnapped and forced into marriage to “fulfill that need.”
At the time, Rubin was criticized across right-wing media. Conservative commentator Mark Dice said it was “horrifying” that Rubin and his husband were “renting other women’s wombs to grow ‘their’ children (who will be deprived of their mothers) & instead forced to be raised by two gay men as ‘theirs.’” He added that “any Christian or conservative congratulating them is just as bad as the Marxists.”
Fundamentalist podcaster Allie Beth Stuckey released a video describing several reasons why she could not congratulate Rubin. According to Stuckey, Rubin is “robbing a child of their mother,” which “qualifies as unbiblical.” She went on to explain her view that “the commercialized surrogacy industry” is “the commodification and the objectification of both women and children,” and said that “two men buying eggs and then renting a uterus” contributes to “the erasure of women.”
The National Review published a piece titled “Why Dave Rubin’s Use of Surrogacy Should Give Conservatives Pause,” claiming his post contributed to an “erasure of women” and arguing that Rubin’s decision to have children via surrogacy is an “irresponsible refusal to accept life’s tragic limitations” and a “house of ethical horrors.”
In October, McKinney opened an anti-surrogacy segment by asking, “Do gay men have an inherent right to use a woman's body to have children?” To discuss, she brought on Turning Point USA contributor Lauren Chen, who attacked surrogacy as a supposed result of “the slippery slope” of allowing gay men to adopt children. Now, she said, “we are talking about creating a child with specific intent to rip that child from their mother.”
McKinney agreed with Chen and went further, arguing that surrogacy is a result of a position supposedly held by“the left” that “a woman is nothing more than a uterus haver.” She lamented that “the social justice woke, you know, pathway” is “coming back on women in so many ways.”
Chen later asserted that if women were not “feeling forced” into surrogacy, there would be fewer potential surrogates.