The silhouette of pregnant person appears next to an image of an IVF embryo

Andrea Austria / Media Matters

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Conservative media figures are using homophobia and misogyny to attack surrogacy and IVF

One right-wing host suggested that allowing IVF could create a “slippery slope that leads right back to slavery.”

Right-wing media figures are increasingly using homophobic and sexist rhetoric to shame LGBTQ couples, including some who work in right-wing media, and single women for using surrogacy and in vitro fertilization to have babies. Since Fox News’ Guy Benson announced his son’s birth via surrogate earlier this month, some conservative media figures have begun amplifying the attacks on fertility treatments that arose last year, attacking Benson and his husband’s use of surrogacy as “disturbing” and “an abomination.”

  • In the post-Roe era, right-wing figures have identified fertility treatments as a next major target

    • Since Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer, ending federal protections of the right to abortion, confusion has swirled about the legality and future of surrogacy arrangements and IVF treatments. Reproductive health advocates fear that conservative politicians will try to restrict either process by using so-called fetal personhood laws, which confer the legal rights and protections of personhood to embryos from conception. [New York University Law School, 9/27/22; The New York Times, 8/21/22
    • Conservative media figures have increasingly targeted IVF and surrogacy in the last year. Right-wing media have called surrogacy “morally horrific” and spoke out against IVF, largely in keeping with the conservative agenda’s rejection of LGBTQ families and single motherhood. [Media Matters, 6/26/23]
    • Now as gay conservative media figures reveal they’ve used IVF and surrogacy to conceive, anti-LGBTQ influencers are decrying them for doing so. Benson recently announced the birth of his son via surrogate, while in March 2022, Blaze Media’s Dave Rubin similarly disclosed that he and his husband were expecting two children. [Parade, 12/1/23; Forbes, 3/21/22]
  • Homophobic and sexist attacks on surrogacy and IVF have only ramped up in recent months

    • Daily Wire host Matt Walsh asserted that “it's far better for a child to be raised lacking one of his arms” than have gay parents. Walsh suggested that those who use surrogacy are “intentionally depriving” children of having both a mother and a father. He also accused LGBTQ couples who use surrogacy of engaging in “human trafficking by definition” and called it “disturbing” that Benson could have a child. [The Daily Wire, The Matt Walsh Show, 12/4/23; 12/4/23]
    • The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles proclaimed that “surrogacy and IVF are immoral,” arguing that both “interfere into the family. They break out the nucleus — the very building block of political society.” Knowles said that unused frozen embryos are “human beings” who “remain frozen on ice in perpetuity,” and concluded, “That’s obviously profoundly immoral.” [The Daily Wire, The Michael Knowles Show, 12/4/23]
    • Blaze Media host Allie Beth Stuckey called for surrogacy to “be banned in all cases” and wrote, “Adoption redeems a broken situation; surrogacy creates one.” She went on to write that the process is tantamount to “robbing a baby of the necessary care only a mother can give,” concluding, “Surrogacy commodifies babies and objectifies women’s bodies.”  [Twitter/X, 12/2/23]
    • Rumble host and white nationalist Stew Peters called Benson and his husband “the latest gay couple to steal a baby through the ‘rent-a-womb’ child trafficking racket.” Peters baselessly suggested that Benson’s child would be exposed to “an unsafe environment” and dubbed the story “an abomination before God.” [Twitter/X, 12/2/23]
    • Anti-abortion outlet LifeSiteNews criticized a “flawed” study that affirms that children born to gay fathers via surrogacy are not harmed by having two fathers. The author suggested that the study “cannot overcome the moral problems with surrogacy” and claimed that all children have the right to be raised by a mother and father. [LifeSiteNews, 11/28/23]
    • Lila Rose, founder of the anti-abortion site Live Action, posted on X (formerly Twitter): “IVF experiments with the lives of children in order to satisfy the desires of adults.” She continued, “In the process of creating life, IVF may be killing babies at a higher rate than abortion.” [Twitter/X, 10/23/23]
    • On her Daily Wire show, Candace Owens mocked a gay couple for using IVF to conceive a child “for incredibly vain reasons” compared to straight couples who used the process due to fertility issues. Owens criticized the couple, who described their IVF process in a TikTok, and suggested that they only wanted to create a “perfect child” because it would help them gain “clicks” and “views” online. [The Daily Wire, Candace Owens, 9/21/23]
    • Anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson chastised LGBTQ couples using IVF, claiming, “Surrogacy for same sex couples has turned into some sort of ‘build-a-bear’ process.” Johnson also suggested that LGBTQ couples using IVF to conceive have “absolutely no care or thought in the world for the child.” [Twitter/X, 7/12/23]
    • Turning Point USA’s Alex Clark spoke out against the practice of women using “IVF as a sort of safety net for putting off having a family in pursuit of a career.” In her speech at the 2023 Young Women’s Leadership Summit, Clark asserted, “‘Big Fertility’ has a vested interest in the feminist movement effectively brainwashing young women in the height of their fertile years.” [Turning Point USA, 6/29/23]
    • One America News host Addison Smith suggested that allowing IVF could create a “slippery slope that leads right back to slavery” after a judge ruled that frozen embryos may be considered property. Smith called the embryo-freezing process “dehumanizing” while guest Ryan Helfenbein stated, “As a Christian, I believe that ultimately life begins at conception, and in this case, with IVF — in vitro fertilization — a fertilized egg is just like a conceived egg in the womb.”  [OAN, In Focus with Addison Smith, 3/20/23]
    • Anti-feminist influencer Hannah Pearl Davis wrote, “IVF as a single person is selfish too - y’all CHOOSING to be single mothers.” [Twitter/X, 12/24/22]
    • Federalist contributor and anti-abortion activist Katy Faust criticized PragerU and Rubin, saying Rubin’s use of a surrogate to conceive essentially “created two intentionally motherless children.” She also raised the question: “Are we to abandon core conservative principles when someone we like violates them?” [Twitter/X, 12/15/22]
    • Conservative radio host and key purveyor of 2020 election lies, Jenna Ellis, replied to Faust, writing, “This is a valid and important question.” She claimed that “party affiliation cannot be the standard of objective morality” in reference to Rubin’s conservative advocacy.  [Media Matters, 10/24/23, Twitter/X, 12/15/22]
    • During an appearance on OAN, Emma Waters, a research associate at the Heritage Foundation, likened surrogacy to “the ultimate commercialization of children.” [OAN, Tipping Point with Kara McKinney, 11/29/22]
    • The Federalist’s Jordan Boyd appeared on OAN, rebuking IVF as “adults’ selfish desires.” Smith characterized IVF as essentially giving people “the ability to create a human life and destroy it outside of just, you know, your typical, natural abortion procedure.” [OAN, In Focus with Addison Smith, 10/27/22]