In surrogacy, a woman is artificially inseminated with a man‘s sperm. The woman not only bears his child in her womb but later on after the birth of the child also hands over that child to the man and his wife to be brought up as their child. In this method, the egg and sperm are united in a culture dish, where the egg is fertilized and the resulting embryo is implanted in the woman‘s uterus. Surrogate parenting is a scientific extension of the natural ability to reproduce. Surrogacy has become an attractive alternative for young couples to overcome the problems of adopting children and thereby to reduce high infertility rate

Surrogacy is often thought to be a ‘treatment’ option for the infertile or an alternative to adoption, and so to be celebrated in fulfilling people’s desires to be parents. However, surrogacy also brings a wealth of more complex ethical issues around gender, labor, payment, exploitation and inequality. One of the major concerns that raise the issue of human rights is that of commoditization of children in commercial surrogacy because it places the reproductive capacity of the woman in the market place. This is because the removal of the act of childbearing from the idea of motherhood treats women as “objects of reproductive exchange” by effectively “renting” wombs and devaluing childbearing.

Instances of exploitation of surrogates are more in case of international commercial surrogacy where surrogates are from poor background and are often forced by their in-laws to consent to such procedure that can earn the livelihood for the whole family. This raises the question of whether they are really exercising free choice in the matter, or whether a lack of economic alternatives gives surrogates no other feasible option. Their lack of legal or medical knowledge and the fact they are being offered sums of money which to them seem huge, make it difficult for surrogates to have equal bargaining power against the comparatively wealthy and powerful clinics and commissioning parents they contract with.

According to the opinions opposite to the surrogate maternity practices, it means “selling the female body”. The surrogacy is compared to the prostitution in the literature, whereby the women are claimed to sell their uteri, and forgive the control of their own bodies. The opponents of the surrogate maternity and the contract of surrogacy claim that such practices make the children a product that could be purchased and sold. Furthermore, the child is treated as a tool to satisfy the needs of the other people, so that the child rights are infringed.

the intended mother’s risk of carrying a pregnancy to term. This is especially important if the intended mother is at a more advanced maternal age or she has underlying medical problems that could negatively affect her pregnancy, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, kidney or liver disease, and autoimmune conditions, among others. These conditions can put the baby at risk as well, so using a surrogate would eliminate the risks posed by these medical problems. Most women choose surrogacy due to either having a medical condition that would put them at risk if they were to carry a pregnancy or because they are in an advanced maternal age. But for whatever reason a woman chooses surrogacy, this still means she can go about her life without having to accommodate being pregnant, such as the normal emotional stressors that occur with pregnancy as well as the often uncomfortable physical changes or unpredictable effects on future health. There are no rights or wrongs involved in any of the various reasons a woman might consider using a surrogate to have a baby. A surrogate will not have to endure any financial difficulties for her pregnancy, as the intended parents will pay for all of her pregnancy-related costs (including maternity clothes, doctor’s care and more).

In more recent years, surrogate pregnancy has ignited a maelstrom of controversy in which scholars, politicians, judges, scientists, and religious authorities debate the definition of family and kinship. Like adoption, surrogate pregnancy is not an isolated phenomenon but rather it overlaps with a myriad of other social issues, such as wealth distribution, race and color-blindness, gender equality, and children‘s rights, all of which come into play when defining family bonds and relationships.It has been described as ―gift of love or ―gift of life as well as termed as ―rent a womb‖ depending on the particular viewpoint adopted towards it. Regardless of its benefits, surrogacy has also generated considerable moral and ethical debate.Surrogacy inherently transforms a woman’s body into a ‘bread oven’, a commodity, to be used and cared for while it is useful, and to be forgotten once the “contract” is fulfilled. Due to the uncertainty prevailing over the various issues surrounding surrogacy, it is considered as an ethical mine-field.

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Chaitanya Sharma
B.A Philosophy (Hons.) from Hansraj College, University of Delhi


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