Acton Institute Powerblog

India Is To Surrogacy As Detroit Was To Cars

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That’s the conclusion Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, has come to. The surrogacy business in India is booming. While statistics are hard to come by, according to one estimate, .  That does not translate to much money for the surrogate mothers, however. Women are paid about $8,000 for their medical expenses and having a baby. However, since it is typically poor women, many of whom are illiterate, that are targeted for surrogacy, many sign contracts they do not understand. India has few laws governing surrogacy, so the women have little or no rights. It is a situation ripe for abuse.

While many view the Indian surrogacy business as a “win-win,” Smith says it clearly is not.

Surrogacy degrades a pregnancy to a service and a baby to a product. Experience shows that like any other commercial dealing the customer lays down his/her conditions before purchasing the goods. The surrogate may be forced to terminate the pregnancy if so desired by the contracting couple and she will not be able to terminate it if it is against the desire of the couple. She has difficulty in keeping her own baby. There have been instances where the contracting individual has specified the sex of the baby as well, refused to take the baby if it is not normal, and filed a suite against the surrogate saying she had broken the contract.

Smith also argues that surrogacy – because it involves the sale and transaction of a human being – is not a “typical” business deal. There are ethical issues at stake, not the least of which is taking advantage of undereducated, poor women. The surrogate’s health is generally only a concern in that she can produce a healthy child; Smith calls this “gestational serfdom.”

Even more harrowing is the idea that anyone can buy a baby this way – even pedophiles. In Israel, a convicted sex offender was able to purchase a baby via surrogacy. Also, lest you think that surrogacy is only for those who are infertile, it’s also becoming popular for those who don’t want to be pregnant, even for reasons of vanity: “some women who opt for surrogacy face no biological barrier; they say they’re too busy to be pregnant, or don’t want to lose their figures.”  One doctor puts it this way:

These are women who know that they are able to carry the pregnancy themselves, but who decide for social reasons not to get pregnant themselves , but to use a surrogate instead. They have a wide variety of reasons for choosing this route. Some are very busy and successful career women, who don’t want to take a break in their professional career , as this will harm their chances of becoming the CEO. Others are models who don’t want their figure to altered as a result of pregnancy. Some feel it’s just too stressful for them to go through pregnancy , and if they don’t need to do it themselves , and can get someone else to carry a baby for them, then why shouldn’t they use this option ?

This type of entitlement mentality, along with the casual attitude of using another person as a piece of equipment rather than a human being, makes surrogacy an act of degradation, not of life. Even if all parties are willing, the business of surrogacy remains immoral.

Elise Hilton Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.

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