The Archdiocese of Washington strongly opposes a proposed piece of legislation on surrogacy in the District of Columbia, warning that the bill's passage would "result in widespread disregard of the dignity of women and children."

In a statement, the archdiocese urged the D.C. City Council to reject the Collaborative Reproduction Act of 2013, a statute legalizing surrogacy agreements - the practice whereby a woman carries a pregnancy, often as a result of in vitro fertilization, with the pledge to surrender the child once born to the party who commissioned or made the agreement for the pregnancy. The current law in the District of Columbia prohibits surrogacy arrangements.

"Traditional and gestational surrogacy commercializes and corrupts reproduction and commodifies women and children. It is a destructive and dehumanizing industry. It exploits vulnerable women and takes no account of the rights of children born from surrogacy," said Michael Scott, director of the D.C. Catholic Conference, which represents the public policy interests of the Catholic Church in the District of Columbia.

In written testimony submitted to the D.C. City Council's committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, Christa Lopiccolo, executive director of the archdiocesan Department of Life Issues, strongly advised the legislation be rejected.

"Human beings, made in the image and likeness of God, have an inviolable dignity and eternal destiny. Flowing from this infinite dignity, every child has a right to be conceived from an act of love, an act which bespeaks mutual self-giving and equality," she writes.

While the intentions of those involved in surrogacy agreements may be good, Lopiccolo states that the means used in such arrangements would "undermine the goodness of the intent."

Scott also submitted written testimony, which opposed the bill, stating that although the D.C. Catholic Conference "identifies with some of the public witnesses who feel the pain and deprivation resulting from infertility," he urged them to "build families through adoption without the moral, bioethical, physical, psychological, legal and social complications commonly associated with surrogacy."

Some of the alarming aspects of the legislation, he cites, include: the commercialization of reproduction, whereby numerous embryos are manufactured "in a petri dish followed by a process of selective reduction (destruction) for most of them..."

He also writes that the legislation, which objectifies and commodifies women for their reproductive services and children as reproductive products, as well as the lucrative nature of surrogacy agreements, could lead to a "lack of fully informed consent" therefore making the process "even more exploitative and dangerous."

The bill raises complex and challenging legal questions surrounding parentage, custody and status, the D.C. Catholic Conference said, adding those issues "may not be easily if ever resolved without the prospect of unforeseen legal complications and litigation."

Lopiccolo also warns of the dangers of surrogacy in that it establishes relationships based on "the domination of technology and scientific manipulation over human life, the domination of parents over the child, and the domination of the state and the market over individual persons...(A child's) life is bought, traded and commodified as yet another good to be acquired."

Rev. Patrick J. Walker, president of the Baptist Convention of the District of Columbia and Vicinity, submitted written testimony in opposition to the bill.

"The Baptist Convention of the District of Columbia and Vicinity (BCDCV) believes this legislation is contrary to morality, bioethics and social justice...The D.C. Council is attempting to make this legislation sound as though it will be a help to those seeking to become parents, but what price are we, as a society, and the District of Columbia, as a community, willing to pay?"

He also states the proposed bill "will open the door for surrogacy brokers and attorneys to make a fortune on the backs of low income women who will, without complete legal or health risk information, make decisions that will affect them and the children they will carry for the rest of their lives...Great concern must be given for our vulnerable and often marginalized poor minority women who may fall prey to such an industry in our city."

Scott said the bill is expected to come up for a vote before the D.C. City Council's committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety in late September.