Surrogacy in the News

Book: Cracked Open: Liberty, Fertility and the Pursuit of High-Tech Babies

Cracked Open: Liberty, Fertility and the Pursuit of High-Tech Babies
By Miriam Zoll | Interlink Publishing Group | 2013
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Foreword by Judy Norsigian, co-founder and former executive director, Our Bodies Ourselves, and Michele Goodwin, director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy

Cracked Open by Miriam ZollFrom the book description:

Cracked Open is Miriam Zoll’s eye-opening account of growing into womanhood with the simultaneous opportunities offered by the women’s movement and new discoveries in reproductive technologies. Influenced by pervasive media and cultural messages suggesting that science had finally eclipsed Mother Nature, Zoll –– like millions of women –– delays motherhood until the age of 40.

When things don’t progress as she had hoped, she and her husband enter a science-fiction world of medical seduction, capitalist conception and bioethical quagmires. Desperate to conceive, they turn to unproven treatments and procedures only to learn that the odds of becoming parents through reproductive medicine are far less than they and their generation had been led to believe.

Visit Miriam Zoll’s website to learn more >

Watch Miriam Zoll talk about her experience with infertility, IVF, and the search for an egg provider in an excerpt from The Cycle Forum.

Article: Assembling the Global Baby

Assembling the Global Baby
By Tamara Audi and Arlene Chang | The Wall Street Journal | Dec. 10, 2010

This article provides a global overview on laws related to international commercial surrogacy, highlighting the transnational mobility of the practice as regulation around it changes. It might require a subscription or free sign up to The Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

the wallstreet journal logoIn a hospital room on the Greek island of Crete with views of a sapphire sea lapping at ancient fortress walls, a Bulgarian woman plans to deliver a baby whose biological mother is an anonymous European egg donor, whose father is Italian, and whose birth is being orchestrated from Los Angeles.

She won’t be keeping the child. The parents-to-be—an infertile Italian woman and her husband (who provided the sperm)—will take custody of the baby this summer, on the day of birth. […]

The man bringing together this disparate group is Rudy Rupak, chief executive of PlanetHospital.com LLC, a California company that searches the globe to find the components for its business line. The business, in this case, is creating babies.

Read the full article >

Initiative: Stop Surrogacy Now

Stop Surrogacy Now
Global | 2015

Stop Surrogacy Now is a global effort to oppose the “exploitation of women and the human trafficking of children through surrogacy.” According to the website, the group includes more than 100 individuals and 16 organizations from 18 countries, who believe all forms of surrogacy should be stopped because it is an abuse of women’s and children’s human rights.

In an article published on Public Discourse, co-founder Kathleen Sloan, describes the genesis of Stop Surrogacy Now, from 2011, when she and co-founder Jennfier Lahl first met at a screening of the documentary Eggsploitation, to the initiative’s current reach and status as a network that has, says Sloan, brought together people who might otherwise be “at each other’s throats.”

Here is an excerpt:

What sets this campaign apart is that Stop Surrogacy Now (SSN) unites organizations and individuals with opposing positions on many other issues—including the emotionally explosive issue of abortion. In the United States especially, no other issue ignites such passionate responses and produces such vitriolic debate. It has even led to violence, including eight murders and over forty clinic bombings. As time goes on, the contentiousness of the issue only seems to increase rather than dissipate. It is therefore extraordinary that so many people who stand on opposite sides of this issue have come together to stop the surrogacy juggernaut.

This campaign also brings together the fervently religious and the entirely non-religious, those who advocate LGBTQ rights and those who oppose same-sex marriage, feminists and non-feminists, the radical right and the radical left along with those in between, neoliberal capitalists and socialists, death-with-dignity supporters and those who consider it to be a form of euthanasia.

Visit Stop Surrogacy Nowread the full article, and follow the initiative’s outreach with The Hague on the human rights issues posed by international commercial surrogacy.

Article: Human Factory Farming and the Campaign to Outlaw Surrogacy

Human Factory Farming and the Campaign to Outlaw Surrogacy
by Mirah Riben | Dissident Voice | May 30, 2015

Here’s an excerpt:

The despair of wanting a child you are unable to produce naturally has led to a multi-billion dollar Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART) industry offering a plethora of reproductive choices resulting in tens of thousands of births a year in the U.S. It has also led to controversy and a campaign to ban it.

Michele Goodwin, director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy, holds the Chancellor’s Chair at the University of California, Irvine with appointments at the School of Law, School of Public Health, and Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies:

These technologies provide a stunning candy store of options: a spectrum so vast in array, scope, and breadth as to make heads spin: in vitro fertilization, ova selling, cryopreservation of ova, womb renting [surrogacy], pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, embryo transfer, assisted hatching, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) of ova, embryo grading, and more.

Producing children with the assistance of anonymous third parties, while increasingly popular and accepted for anyone who can afford it, remains controversial. Despite compassion for the unmet longing to be a parent, there is no right to a child for anyone — heterosexual, homosexual, or singles by choice.

Read the full article >

Article: Nigeria’s Baby Farmers

Nigeria’s Baby Farmers
By Anas Aremeyaw Anas and Rosemary Nwaebuni | Al Jazeera | Dec. 3, 2015

This episode of “Africa Investigates” explores a three-fold problem: pregnant women voluntarily or being forced to give up their children for adoption; young girls confined and forced to produce children that are sold to childless couples trying to avoid the stigma of infertility and adoption in Nigeria; and the role of “miracle” doctors in the country’s rapidly growing demand for children and “baby farms.”

While it does not discuss surrogacy, the implications of what it does talk about, on international adoption and commercial surrogacy, is clear and cautionary.

Read the full article >

Article: Make Me a Baby As Fast As You Can

Make Me a Baby As Fast As You Can
By Douglas Pet | Slate | Jan. 9, 2012

Excerpt:

slate magazineThe booming business in international surrogacy, whereby Westerners have begun hiring poor women in developing countries to carry their babies, has been the subject of plenty of media buzzing over the past few years. Much of the coverage regards the practice as a win-win for surrogates and those who hire them; couples receive the baby they have always wanted while surrogates from impoverished areas overseas earn more in one gestation than they would in many years of ordinary work. Heartening stories recount how infertile people, as well lesbian and gay couples who want to have children (and who often suffer the brunt of discriminatory adoption policies), have formed families by finding affordable surrogates abroad. The Oprah Winfrey Show has even portrayed the practice as a glowing example of “women helping women” across borders, celebrating the arrangements as a “confirmation of how close our countries can really be.”

But make no mistake: This is first and foremost a business. And the product this business sells—third-party pregnancy—is now being offered with all sorts of customizable options, guarantees, and legal protections for clients (aka would-be parents).

Read the full article >

Douglas Pet is a senior program associate at the Center for Genetics and Society.

Report: Surrogate Motherhood: Ethical or Commercial?

Surrogate Motherhood: Ethical or Commercial?
by Centre for Social Research | India | 2013

Surrogate Motherhood: Ethical or CommercialTo address issues relating to surrogacy, the Centre for Social Research conducted an exploratory study on surrogacy in three high-prevalence areas: Anand, Surat and Jamnagar of Gujarat state.

The objectives of the study were to:

  • Conduct a situational analysis of surrogacy cases in the three study areas and the issues
    involved
  • Examine the existing social and health protection rights ensured to the surrogate mother
  • Analyze the rights of the child in surrogacy arrangements
  • Study the rights and issues pertaining to commissioning parents
  • Suggest policy recommendations for protection of rights through legal provisions of surrogate mother, child and the commissioning parents based on the study

Read the full report >

Article: Why the Left Should Oppose Commercial Surrogacy

Why the Left Should Oppose Commercial Surrogacy
By Brandon McGinley | The Week | Oct. 21, 2014

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-11-29-17-amThis article challenges “leftists” (individuals with liberal or progressive political and social views) to oppose commercial surrogacy, arguing that the practice flies in the face of two of their most enduring principles: autonomy and equality. It draws a parallel between a sweatshop worker and a gestational mother, both of whom sign contracts out of “economic desperation.” It suggests that such contracts would be deemed “immoral” by “progressives” and, for equality to exist, it is the government’s role (and not that of the contracting parties) to ensure agreements are unenforceable.

Read the full article > 

Book: Family-Making: Contemporary Ethical Challenges

Family-Making: Contemporary Ethical Challenges
By Francoise Baylis and Carolyn McLeod | Oxford University Press | 2014
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This book discusses the ethics of making families with children via adoption or assisted reproductive technologies.

Excerpt from a review by Vida Panitch, Associate Professor at Carleton University:

Cover for Family-Making The editors set out to canvas the moral terrain of nontraditional family making, or family making through adoption and/or assisted reproductive technology (ART). And they have brought together papers that shed important light on the various contemporary ethical challenges that couples and individuals face depending on the manner in which they choose to welcome children into their lives. Of equal interest to Baylis and McLeod are questions regarding the duties of parents as well the duties of the state with respect to families formed via ART and adoption. Discussions as to the unique values and duties associated with families forged by these means are counterbalanced with papers on the permissibility (or necessity) of regulative state policies on everything from parental licensing, to anonymous gamete donation, to contract pregnancy.

More information >

For more by Françoise Baylis, read:

Podcast: Hardtalk with Dr. Nayna Patel

Hardtalk with Dr. Nayna Patel
By Hardtalk | BBC | 2013

Listen to Stephen Sackur in conversation with Dr. Nayna Patel, the medical director of Akanksha Hospital in the Indian state of Gujarat.

During the interview, the host of BBC Hardtalk addresses many of the concerns that have been documented by researchers and activists working on international commercial surrogacy, from those related to unfair payments and payment schedules for gestational mothers to unsound medical practices that characterize many arrangements.