430135512-Surrogacy.doc - Surrogacy and Ethics Today...

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Surrogacy and Ethics Today commercial surrogacy is a “global baby business” (Donchin 2010, p. 323) valued at between US $500 million and US $2.0 billion in India alone (Knoche 2014). This boom in international surrogacy can be ascribed to the possibilities opened up by assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) as well as affordable travel opportunities in the age of globalisation. Hence starting a family is no longer exclusively a question of intimacy and individual choice between two people, nor is it a question of having a vast amount of money. Surrogacy has become an attractive alternative for many couples (Robinson 2006) either when reasons of infertility or sexual orientation make a “natural” pregnancy impossible or when a woman is unwilling to carry a pregnancy. Although surrogacy is forbidden in many countries (e.g. Germany), some countries (e.g. the UK) permit altruistic surrogacy and in others (e.g. India) surrogacy is actually a well-established form of medical tourism. Evidence suggests that the medical tourism industry will grow in the coming years, as for example, the surrogacy prices in India are five times lower than in some US states. Accordingly, Arlie Russell Hochschild describes commercial surrogacy as “the ultimate encounter between the market and intimate life” (Hochschild 2012, p. 178), where difficult questions about hiring others to perform personal acts arise. The practice of surrogacy is a sphere of life in which economic considerations, medical technologies and international regulations are indissolubly entwined. Because of its complexity, the practice of surrogacy makes ethical evaluation difficult. Before presenting some ethical considerations concerning the practice of surrogacy, a short remark on terminology is required. In general, two kinds of surrogacy can be distinguished: In a traditional arrangement, a surrogate mother contributes her ovum and is genetically related to the child. Gestational surrogacy, in contrast, means that the surrogate carries a child that is not genetically related to her, but to the commissioning parents or a third party that donates the ovum and/or the sperm. This distinction is of empirical importance insofar as most surrogacy arrangements today are gestational and most “dramatic surrogacy failures” (Shapiro 2014, p. 1355), such as the Baby M case,1 can be traced back to traditional surrogacy. Cases in which the surrogate mother is also genetically related to the child present a problem for the courts in particular, in that not only the legitimacy of surrogacy contracts has been called into question, but the issue has also been raised of whose right to the child is greater: the genetic and biological mother, or the genetic father and his wife, the social mother.

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