The International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics provides a forum within bioethics for feminist thought and debate. It is sponsored by the International Network on Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, and includes feminist scholarship on ethical issues related to health, health care, and the biomedical sciences.
Contributors to vol. 7, no. 2, titled Transnational Reproductive Travel, explore questions and ethics related to international commercial surrogacy, in countries such as Canada, Thailand, Japan, and Denmark. The issue also includes a commentary on the Hague Convention and a review of “Breeders: A Subclass of Women,” by Jennifer Lahl from Stop Surrogacy Now.
This report summarizes discussions of participants in Thematic Area 5 (Global Surrogacy Practices) of the International Forum on Intercountry Adoption and Global Surrogacy held in August 2014. The full text is available for download.
We are pleased to announce the publication of Global Surrogacy Practices, co-authored by CGS Executive Director Marcy Darnovsky and CGS Fellow Diane Beeson. The 54-page report is based on presentations and discussions at the International Forum on Intercountry Adoption and Global Surrogacy, a landmark conference that brought together nearly a hundred scholars, women’s health and human rights advocates and policymakers from 27 countries at the International Institute of Social Studies this past summer.
The Forum took place in the wake of international headlines about disturbing cross-border surrogacy incidents, including one case in which an Australian couple abandoned their baby son, who has Down syndrome, with his Thai surrogate mother.
“The Forum provided an unprecedented opportunity for advocates and scholars working on intercountry adoption and on intercountry surrogacy to jointly consider the many concerns that have emerged in connection with these practices,” said CGS Executive Director and report co-author Marcy Darnovsky.
“The conversations centered on ways to improve international standards around the evolving practices of cross-border adoption and surrogacy, in which children typically move from poorer to wealthier countries,” said Kristen Cheney, Forum organizer and Senior Lecturer in Children & Youth Studies at International Institute of Social Studies.
The case of an Australian couple accused of abandoning their child with his Thai surrogate mother after discovering he had Down syndrome — and taking home his healthy twin — has turned global attention to the murky underworld of international surrogacy.
Such cases have raised ethical and legal dilemmas, which experts say are the inevitable consequences of an unregulated multibillion-dollar industry dependent on impoverished women in developing countries providing a “product” — a child — so desperately wanted by would-be parents in wealthier nations.
In Baby Gammy’s case, which made international headlines this month, the boy’s Australian parents are claiming that the Thai surrogate mother, Pattaramon Chanbua, refused to release the child into their custody and that they lacked the legal right to force her to do so.
This article provides a global overview of laws related to international commercial surrogacy, with a focus on Thailand. It delves into issues specific to the rights of children – such as citizenship and legal parentage – and links to the work being done by the Hague Conference on Private International Law, an intergovernmental organization, on the legal challenges posed by the practice.
Read a report, Global Surrogacy Practices, published by Marcy Darnovsky and Diane Beeson, summarizing discussions on global surrogacy at the International Forum on Intercountry Adoption and Global Surrogacy, The Hague, August 2014.
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.