The 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).
This 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.
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:
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.
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.
Sama is a Delhi-based organization working on issues of women’s health and human rights. A key focus is assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) and international commercial surrogacy.
Sama documents and makes visible the experiences of gestational mothers and the risks they face in international commercial surrogacy arrangements. The organization examines issues within the framework of gender, class, caste, religion, ethnicity, and other power dynamics within South Asian society and between South Asia and other countries/regions. Visit Sama’s website for more information.