BABY FARMING GAINSAY TO INDIAN DOGMAS AND SOCIAL NORMS
– Dr. Manpreet Kaur Rajpal
Associate Professor and Head of Department,
Indore Institute of Law
BABY FARMING a Synonym of Surrogacy, Rented womb and Outsourcing pregnancy. Strange isn’t it? Surrogacy means the process of carrying and delivering a child for another person. The New Encyclopedia Britannica defines ‘Surrogate Motherhood’ as the practice in which a woman bears a child for a couple unable to produce children in the usual way. Surrogacy is not a new concept: indeed, traditional Surrogacy Arrangements can be traced back to Biblical times. However, the booming global Surrogacy “business” we see today appears to have evolved rapidly within the last decade or so. This can be attributed to a convergence of scientific, demographic, legal and social developments.
In India the concept of Surrogacy was ushered two decades ago. With the march of time and progress of society, India has now turned into the main destination for Surrogacy and is considered as the “Hub of Surrogacy”. The primary reason of its rapid growth in India is its low cost and the lack of Legislation. At the outset it marked its existence only in metros like Delhi, Bombay etc. But with the lapse of time it has now reached to small towns like Badwani, Ujjain etc. And this displays the change in people’s mindset, a move from Conservative to Progressive outlook. Surrogacy had become a booming business in India. In our country where people considered marriage a sacred sacrament and child the result of marriage, has now been changing to a progressive outlook where a third party is involved in reproducing a child. The child has turned into a commodity and the motherhood is fragmented. The Concept of Surrogacy results in dilapidation of the Social Structure of India. It deteriorates motherhood and degrades the institution of marriage. My Research paper focuses on the darker sides of Surrogacy. It throws light on the adverse impact of Surrogacy on the Indian Society and its religious dogmas as it is one of the emerging social issues in India.
Keywords: Baby Farming, Surrogacy, Rented womb, Outsourcing pregnancy, Fragmented Motherhood.
In the Indian social context specially, Children are also a kind of old age insurance. If marriage is a personal choice monitored by social practices and obligations in India, so is motherhood; to not become a mother is rarely a matter of personal choice and in the least, encouraged. In the conundrum of familial pressure, concerns over genetic progeny and continuation of property rights of a group of persons who are genetically related to each other, not having a ‘next generation’ has made persons look to alternative remedies for continuation of the bloodline.
And here, Surrogacy springs in as a savior to the Childless Couple.
The desire to procreate is a very fundamental attribute of the Human race. Sadly though, many are denied the joy of Parenthood due to several reasons, biological or otherwise. With the developments in Reproductive Sciences and Technologies the barriers to Parenthood are no longer as formidable as they once were. Advances in Assisted Reproductive Techniques such as donor insemination and, embryo transfer methods, have revolutionized the reproductive environment, resulting in Surrogacy, as the most desirable option. The system of Surrogacy has given hope to many infertile couples, who long to have a child of their own. Taking advantage of the advanced medical facilities, they seek alternative solutions like Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART), In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and, Intra-Uterine Injections (IUI), in the hope of having a child of their own. Infertile women, homosexual couples and singles desiring to become parents may seek surrogacy as a simpler route to do so.
In India, Surrogacy has marked its inception in late 90’s. At the outset it marked its existence in metros only. But with march of time & progress of society it has became a booming business in India. You can easily find news pertaining to Surrogacy in Print & Electronic media very often. Commercial Surrogacy in India is legal.1 The availability of medical infrastructure and potential surrogates, combined with international demand, has fueled the growth of the Baby Farming industry.
What Is Baby Farming?
Baby farming is the business of cultivation of Babies for sell. In layman’s language, baby farming is the synonym of the term Surrogacy. Surrogacy is a reproductive technique that attempts to obtain pregnancy by means other than by intercourse. Surrogacy is a form of assisted reproduction and a “Surrogate Mother” is a woman who bears a child on behalf of other parents. In other words, Surrogacy refers to an arrangement whereby a woman agrees to become pregnant for the purposes of gestating and giving birth to a child for others to raise. She may be the child’s Genetic Mother or not, depending on the type of arrangement agreed to. In my words, when a woman is unable to carry a child, whether due to medical, genetic or social reasons, the couple or single woman or man may choose to find a Surrogate Mother who can carry the baby. Thus we can say that Surrogacy is the act of a woman, altruistic by nature, to gestate a child for another individual or couple, with the intent to give said child back to his parents at birth. It’s as simple as that. A Surrogate Mother volunteers to carry an unborn child that is not her own for another family.This can happen in one of the two ways of arrangement.
Altruistic Surrogacy is a situation where the Surrogate receives no financial reward for her pregnancy or the relinquishment of the child although usually all expenses related to the pregnancy and birth are paid by the intended parents such as medical expenses, maternity clothing, accommodation, diet and other related expenses.
Commercial Surrogacy is a form of Surrogacy in which a gestational carrier is paid to carry a child to maturity in her womb and is usually resorted to by higher income infertile couples who can afford the cost involved or people who save or borrow in order to complete their dream of being parents. This procedure is legal in several countries including India. Commercial Surrogacy is also known as ‘Wombs for Rent’, Outsourced Pregnancies’or ‘Baby Farms’.
Backwash of Surrogacy
Surrogacy is a ray of hope to millions of infertile Couples but at the same time this new reproductive technology is a gainsay to the Indian dogmas and virtues. The introduction of Contraceptive Technologies has resulted in the separation of sex and procreation. The introduction of New Reproductive Technology mainly Surrogacy via IVF & Embryo Transfer has led not only to the separation of procreation and sex, but also to the redefinition of the terms mother and family. Surrogacy distinguishes between:
• The Genetic Mother – the donor of the egg;
• The Gestational Mother – she who bears and gives birth to the baby;
• The Social Mother – the woman who raises the child.
Surrogacy has also divided feminists. Since the mid-1980s, with the case of ‘Baby M’, liberal feminists took a positive stance, stressing the right of women to determine their reproductive rights and be perfectly capable of entering legal contracts as they please, whereas socialist and radical
feminists were against Surrogacy using the comodification argument. What made feminists uncomfortable with the whole debate is that on the one hand some of the arguments against Surrogacy are overlapping with conservative approaches to the ‘unique experience of Motherhood’ e.g. of Catholics and pro-life activists, while on the other the arguments in favor seemed to be endorsing market arrangements.
Surrogate Motherhood; one of the latest Reproductive Technologies, has raised complex ethical and legal Issues, and lawsuits over custody after the Child’s birth have resulted from both types of Surrogacy.
In the highly publicized Baby M case (1986-88), Mary Beth Whitehead, the Surrogate and Biological Mother, sued William and Elizabeth Stern, the Baby’s Father and his Wife, for custody of the child. Although, the Surrogate Mother was not awarded custody in the Baby M case, she was granted visitation rights. Several European countries and a number of states have passed laws banning paid Surrogacy.
These New Reproductive Technologies raise complicated issues, not only for the law, but also for morality. What is society to say to these technologies that, in many cases, redefine the family and turn traditional notions of reproduction upside down? In addition, since many of these issues are not directly addressed in Scripture, in what way does the Bible speak to these issues? So here are some ethical and social concerns with Surrogacy.
Ethical & Social Concerns
We have entered a new age. Now it is scientifically possible for a baby to be created in a Petri dish from the sperm of a man and the eggs of a woman, and the resulting embryos can be transferred into a second woman to gestate. Through the use of fertility drugs and careful monitoring, these embryos can grow to full term babies, which are then given back to the persons who commissioned the process, which are not necessarily those who originally donated the eggs and sperm for the event. So I ask you, Is Surrogacy right? We know this Scientifical Procedure is more than possible; in fact, it’s quite common.
But is Surrogacy right?
What are the Ethics of Surrogacy?
On an Ethical basis, there are different viewpoints on Surrogacy, Genetic (Traditional) or Gestational, Altruistic or Commercial. Most Religions and Relevant Organizations are against Surrogacy, particularly its commercial aspects, since they see it as immoral, against the unity of marriage and procreation, or against the dignity or the child to be carried by their Biological Mother; as a result, they call upon the law to maintain Surrogacy as illegal.
Liberal approaches, however, emphasize the need for the state and the law to stay neutral towards competing moral standards, drawing, among else, on John Stuart Mill’s Principle that only harmful practices should be prohibited by law and that one is ultimately sovereign over one’s body and mind. Legal arrangements seem to be struggling to cope with on the one hand these various moral views, and on the other a number of ethical issues involved in the idea and the procedures of Surrogacy, which touch upon family structure and welfare of Children, the nature of Motherhood, and opposing views of politicians, feminists and pro-life activists.
Let’s examine the common complaints, social issues, and ethics of Surrogacy under different heads which are as following:
• Commoditization of Child
• Degrades Motherhood
• Reproductive Labor: An Unethical Practice
• Challenges the Religious Dogmas
• Science Babies: Designer Babies
Commoditization of Child
Surrogacy involves the Sale of Children. While Surrogate mothering allows a woman to receive monetary compensation for carrying another person’s baby and allows childless couples to experience parenthood, opponents debate the issue of whether a baby is being purchased. Nevertheless, the baby is genetically a product of the parents. Certainly, the most serious objection to Commercial Surrogacy is that it reduces Children to objects of barter by putting a price on them. Most of the arguments in favor of Surrogacy are attempts to avoid this problem. Opponents of Surrogacy insist that any attempt to deny or minimize the charge of baby selling fails, and thus Surrogacy involves the Sale of Children. This violates the Twenty-Third article of INDIAN CONSTITUTION, which prohibits the Sale of Human Beings. It also violates commonly and widely held moral principles that safeguard Human Rights and the Dignity of Human persons, namely that human beings are made in God’s image and are his unique creations. Persons are not fundamentally things that can be purchased and sold for a price. The fact that proponents of Surrogacy try so hard to get around the charge of baby selling indicates their acceptance of these moral principles as well. Rather than the debate being over whether human beings should be bought and sold, it is over whether Commercial Surrogacy constitutes such a sale of children. If it does, most people would agree that the case against Surrogacy is quite strong. As the New Jersey Supreme Court put it in the Baby M case, “There are, in a civilized society, some things that money cannot buy….there are Values that society deems more important than granting to wealth whatever it can buy, be it labor, love or life”. The sale of children, which normally results from a Surrogacy transaction, the only exception being cases of Altruistic Surrogacy, is inherently problematic. This is so irrespective of the other good consequences the arrangement produces, in the same way that slavery is inherently troubling, because Human Beings are not objects for sale.
According to Elisabeth S. Anderson, Commercial Surrogacy treats children as commodities because, according to the legal contract, they are essentially the “Product” that comes from the paid labor of the Surrogate Mother. This is ethically questionable because it distorts traditional parental concerns with financial concerns. The rights of the child, Anderson argues, who has basically been used as an object of barter between two parties, are automatically called into question.5 An important moral objection to Commercial Surrogacy derives from the commodification argument which targets the idea of compensation for relinquishing the Surrogate’s parental right to the child she has borne. For Burr, this argument reinforces the public/private divide, where private is the feminine sphere, characterized by nurturing and loving, while public is the masculine terrain which is defined by commercialization of the labor power.6 Contrast, others view the commoditization that emerges when families are constructed through the marketplace as disruptive of the dichotomy between private and public spheres, or between reproduction and production. Moreover, Surrogacy raises ethical issues about the Dignity of the Child as it turns it into the product of a market relation. A well-known feminist argument condemns ‘Baby Selling’, referring mainly to Traditional Surrogacy, which involves relinquishing not only the Babies Surrogates carry, but also their genetic material. This negative stance has, however, been mitigated since the 1990s with technological developments enabling Gestational Surrogacy.
Other authors take a different stance. Radin 9 raises the issue of Surrogacy in fact being Baby Selling. She states: ? if it were okay to think of Children as Property, then it would be okay to buy and sell them; and if it is not done to buy and sell them, then maybe it’s not done to think of children as property. A New Hampshire judge ruled the following in a custody case: ? At birth the father does not purchase the child. It is his biological genetically related child. He cannot purchase what is already his.
Authors like Roberts and Field 10 acknowledge that through this form of relationship Surrogates form kinship ties that disturb the sanctity of biology and genes within a system that might well be the pinnacle of the commoditization of the genetic tie. They argue that with the entry of financial arrangements in exchange of the Surrogate child, the Child becomes a saleable commodity and Surrogacy Commercialized. Hiring couples no longer have to cross borders: the child born would carry its parent’s genes and subsequently their race, caste and religion.
Radin,11 however, believes that even if there is a genetic relationship between the adopters and the child this does not necessarily make it a non-sale. If Surrogate children are conceived as market commodities because there is a practice of paying money for relinquishing parental rights, then every child can be considered a commodity. As a matter of fact, we all are commodities, because we used to be children ourselves. If children are viewed as exchangeable market commodities, it might make the self- conception of those children as persons impossible. Therefore, if conceiving children as commodities has a negative effect on personhood, it means that baby selling, and Surrogacy for that reason, is wrong.12 Hence, it is appropriate here to say that the Commercialization of Surrogacy has raised fears of a black market and of baby selling and breeding farms; turning impoverished women into baby producers and the possibility of selective breeding at a price. Surrogacy degrades a pregnancy to a service and a baby to a product. Experience shows that as with any other commercial dealing, the customer lays down his/ her conditions before purchasing the goods. Slowly but steadily India is emerging as a popular destination for Surrogacy arrangements for many rich foreigners as the Indian Surrogacy Industry is unregulated. It’s high time that the Indian government shall take a stand and ban Commercial Surrogacy and safeguard the children’s from becoming a property of purchase and sale and stop this unethical practice.
Who helped you tie your shoes or learn a new piece on the piano? When you forgot your science project was due the next day, who made a late-night run for poster board and glue? It was Mom.
Every Christmas, even though money was always tight, who consistently pulled off a miracle and made Christmas morning magical and memorable? It was Mom.
Now that you’re a parent, you may scratch your head wondering how she did it all. Each day is filled with toys to put away and noses to wipe, dinners to make and work to squeeze in. You can’t remember when—if ever—she took time for herself. But now you feel what your mom must have felt as you watch your toddler fall asleep and listen to his giggles in the other room. Motherhood is the highest, holiest service assumed by Humankind. It’s the definition of selfless service. It’s both a daunting responsibility and a glorious opportunity. The divine role of Motherhood is a Gift from God, and key to His plan of happiness for all His Children.13 But unfortunately and at times deliberately women are not able to enjoy the Motherhood and so they look forward to the Neo Reproductive technique Surrogacy. Surrogacy is a “Womb for Rent.” No Doubt it’s the hope of infertile but still there are many who criticize Surrogacy claiming that it involves sale of Children as well as the sale of Motherhood. God chose Mothers to bear the responsibility of providing physical bodies for His children through the miraculous process of pregnancy and birth. Being a Mother means participating in the miracle that is God’s greatest work.
Thomas S. Monson, a modern-day prophet, said, “One cannot remember mother and forget God. Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and Mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one.”In India, symbolically woman is worshipped as Goddess in the popular mythology! As per Vedic Dharma, the first and foremost criteria for success of a society are that women are accorded the high respect that they rightly deserve. Without that even the otherwise noble deeds would be fruitless. The Vedic Woman has to be respected as a Mother.
But the question here is that does a Surrogate mother shall be paid that respect-
In India, the relationship between the Surrogate child and Mother has become commercial rather than emotional one. Now is that what women are made for, selling Motherhood? This is the biggest irony and the saddest part of the story. Motherhood is not about having the child for 9 months in the womb and then selling it for some bucks to the rich. It’s much more than that. It is not like donating a kidney. Bearing a child is an emotional issue. It is hard to force nine-month-pregnancy on any woman. Elizabeth Kane, the first Commercial Surrogate in the United States, now active in the National Coalition against Surrogacy writes, “A woman, Surrogate Mother feels like a flesh covered test tube during the entire experience. As the foetus grows, the woman is depersonalized; she becomes fragmented from the whole person – merely a vehicle for breeding babies.” “The Surrogacy Contract,” the Baby M court found, “is based on principles that are directly contrary to the objectives of our laws. It guarantees the separation of a child from its mother; it looks to adoption regardless of suitability; it totally ignores the child; it takes the child from the mother regardless of her wishes and maternal fitness.”
Various Scholars believe that Surrogacy has degraded Motherhood as it encourages woman to sell her child in exchange of money. It involves sale of Motherhood. This derogates the dignity of a mother in a society. It’s the commercialization of emotions. This will make money bigger than everything. People will become more selfish. It will degrade the value system of the society. Whether such children will be able to respect their Surrogate Mothers who actually sold them for money? The answer is No for sure. Thus, surrogacy is leading Motherhood to disrespect. Motherhood which is being seen as a divinely act is converted into a flourishing Baby Selling Business and this is the one of the biggest demerit of Surrogacy.
Reproductive Labor: an Unethical Practice
Women’s Reproductive Labor is performed within the institutional settings of the family and marriage within which it is granted legitimacy and recognition. Nevertheless, it occupies an invisible and unacknowledged place in our society, being excluded from the formal economy and not considered as a productive social activity. Instead, it is couched in terms of familial bonding and caring. These notions persist in the perception of Surrogacy as a ‘non-legitimate’ option of work for women. The transgression of the prescribed norms through which reproduction is constructed, regulated otherwise, lead to the depiction of Surrogacy as undignified and stigmatized work. The form of labor in a Surrogacy arrangement, such as that of ‘distancing’ oneself from the child, also referred to as the ‘Emotional Labor of Estrangement’, 15 and the invisiblizing of the pregnancy in response to the existing stigma, also remains unacknowledged. Debates on the comodification and use of women’s bodies must take into account these constructions as well.
Here, we can say that it is inconsistent with human dignity that a woman should use her uterus for financial profit and treat it as an incubator for someone else’s child. These words of the Warnock Committee reporting to the British Government in 1984 remain unanswerable even today. The proposed Bill, however, legalizes not only Surrogacy per se but even Commercial Surrogacy or Surrogacy “For Monetary Compensation” or “on Mutually Agreed Financial Terms”. Whatever the intentions, it’s inevitable consequence would be the creation of a market specializing in the sale and purchase of babies, or as the Many Scholars agree to the statement given by Court of appeal and believes that Surrogacy contracts constitute baby selling; others believe that Surrogate Mothers are selling their reproductive and/or gestational services.
Some probably believe it is both. To say, however, that a woman is being paid for her gestational services indicates that a market price can be put on a female’s reproductive services. This is problematic because of the belief that women’s reproductive services should not be for sale and that to do so would be either immoral, illegal, or both. As has already been noted many times, there is an open and largely unregulated market where gametes, both sperm and egg, are for sale. Surrogacy, though, further develops that market by putting a price on female fertility—and the creation of a market in which female reproduction is put up for sale is something that many scholars, especially feminists, have serious concerns about. The discussion among scholars on this topic is very heated. Scott Rae harshly criticizes the idea that women should be allowed to sell their gestational services, saying, “there is a substantial difference between selling one’s labor in most other areas and selling one’s reproductive capacities”.16 He continues, “Though the right to contract gives on the right to sell one’s services, there are certain services that cannot be for sale without violating human dignity,” and according to Rae, surrogacy contracts constitute a violation of human dignity under this principle. Rae contends that that it is immoral and unethical to allow for the sale of reproductive capabilities.
Damielo and Sorenson concur, arguing that Surrogacy can be likened to prostitution in many ways. The authors explain that, “Prostitution consists in the selling of women’s bodies for sexual satisfaction” and that “Surrogacy contracts require a woman to perform nine months of gestational labor… the woman in effect sells her womb and relinquishes all control of her body”.17 The renowned scholar Anderson attempts a more in-depth discussion of the objection that Surrogacy is wrong because it commodifies women’s reproductive labor. She writes that the application of economic norms to the sphere of women’s labor violates their claim to respect and consideration. “First, ‘by requiring the Surrogate Mother to repress whatever parental love she feels for the child,these norms convert women’s labor into a form of alienated labor’. Secondly,Anderson continues, ‘by manipulating and denying legitimacy to the Surrogate Mother’s evolving perspective on her own pregnancy, the norms of the market degrade her.”
Further Niekerk and Zylsays, “Anderson’s point is not that Surrogacy is immoral because it is a form of alienated labor, but because pregnancy should not become an act of alienated labor. Being denied the legitimacy of one’s perspective on one’s labor, being alienated from one’s feelings, and having to act against one’s emotions is not wrong per se, but is wrong only if the labor in question is women’s reproductive labor or another special form of labor. It is in this sense that Surrogacy is similar to prostitution, not in the sense that both are forms of alienated labor, but in the sense that in both cases a physical capacity, sexual intercourse and gestation, that should be afforded special respect is degraded to a form of alienated labor. What lies at the heart of the objection that Surrogacy is similar to prostitution is that women’s reproductive labor, like their sexuality, should not be compared to, and be treated in the same way as, other forms of physical labor.”
Here, Shah pertinently points out, “Control of sexual and reproductive labor primarily in the service of the patriarchal, monogamous, heterosexual family has meant its total devaluation in the market. Along with the notions of chastity and naturalness associated with the domestication of all such labor has meant a complete stigmatization of it when done anywhere outside of marriage”.
There are some feminists who view Gestational Surrogacy as a form of prostitution or slavery and compare it to organ transplant marketing. Once upon a time, organ transplant was considered science fiction. Now it is commonplace, so commonplace that one is asked to designate on their driver’s license if they would like to donate their organs at death. Surrogacy is similar to organ donation, except it is more like organ borrowing. One woman assists another woman, through scientific and medical means, to carry and birth her child. It’s as simple as that.
But I believe to denounce the commercial exploitation of a kidney and accept the exploitation of the womb constitutes a moral dichotomy of patriarchal society. The mere fact that a woman rents her body opens the road to exploitation, particularly since the logic of Surrogacy is to fulfill the desire of a couple at any cost. Kimbrell draws parallels between Surrogacy and Slavery, since slave women were often used as birth mothers without any legal rights. Fears are expressed that poor women might be transformed into an army of Surrogate labor or a caste of pregnancy carriers.21
Kimbrell goes even further saying: ? the practice of Surrogacy represents a new and unique form of slavery of women. This a view supported by Davis. During times of slavery, slave women were often used as Birth or Genetic Mothers and as Surrogate Mothers nowadays, who possessed no legal rights as Mothers. In light of the commoditisation of the children, and actually also of themselves, they have the same status as Surrogate Mothers have in contemporary times. Another similarity is that Slave Mothers could not speak freely about their pregnancy and the children they carried; an aspect that is also present in Surrogacy as a result of social stigma.
Davis is worried that, given this history, poor women may be transformed into a special caste of hired pregnancy carriers. She believes that with the commoditisation of labor services of pregnant Surrogate Mothers, money is being made, which implies that someone is being exploited. Davis continues by saying that Surrogacy appears as a procedure generative of life, what is really generated seems to be sexism and profits.
In the words of Anderson, ‘when market norms are applied to the ways we allocate and understand parental rights and responsibilities over children, children are reduced from subjects of love to objects of use. When market norms are applied to the ways we treat and understand women’s reproductive labor women are reduced from subjects of respect and consideration to objects of use.
Following this argument, Surrogacy,
because it too involves the sale of sexual reproduction which the researcher firmly believes is degradation of womanhood, should also be outlawed.
Science Babies : DESIGNER BABIES
The entire idea of a child created in a test tube and carried by an unrelated woman is enough to drive fear into the hearts of many while questioning the ethics of Surrogacy. The very thought conjures up visions of science fiction movies gone bad, or thoughts of the privileged few genetically creating the perfect child. Is Surrogacy right?
It is true that reproductive scientists are able to accurately tell if a created embryo might carry a specific disease, or even to tell its gender. Soon we may have the technology to determine hair and eye color, or even skills or hobbies of our potential children. We may see in our lifetimes that scientists are able to successfully clone a human being. But we are not talking about science fiction here, or extreme reproductive selection, with the ethics of Surrogacy. We are simply talking about a woman and a man who are unable to carry their own children. We are talking about helping regular people become parents, not have a super-child created with super-genes. The lack of genetic link between the Surrogate and the Baby, together with the shift of emphasis to Surrogacy as service, have rendered Surrogacy more socially acceptable, but have also paved the way to new risks.
As Commissioning Couples are often wealthy and prepared to spend large amounts of money their high expectations might include good appearance or specific physical attributes, Designer Babies, raising thus serious bio-ethical issues. It is docile here to say that Surrogacy allows the creation of a eugenics market, allowing parents to hand select the characteristics that they would like their children to have.23 The basic premise of the argument is that men and women who want to have children would have access to Surrogacy and would use it as a way to select the most desirable characteristics for their child. Men and women employing the use of a Surrogate mother would have the ability to control for certain physical characteristics, levels of intelligence, athletic or musical abilities, and etcetera.
Such high expectations have also an impact on the autonomy of the Surrogate, as they may involve asking for detailed and often private information about herself and her family in an attempt to create as full a profile as possible. They might also generate segmentation in the Surrogate market, with respect to caste, skin colour, appearance etc., with younger, higher educated, attract or brighter Surrogates being in higher demand.24 Thus, Surrogacy paves the way to Designer babies which is absolutely unethical and unnatural practice.
Challenges to Religious Dogmas
The entire thought of a woman carrying a child for another woman and her husband sounds a little fishy.
How does the Surrogate Mother get pregnant?
Is there something immoral or illicit going on between the Surrogate Mother and the Intended Father?
As silly as this scenario sounds to those involved in the Surrogacy community, it is actually a common misconception, and one of the main arguments against Surrogacy. Most people, regardless of age, profession, education level, or gender, think that some sort of affair is how Surrogate Mothers become impregnated. The truth is, no Surrogacy, let me repeat No Surrogacy arrangement, involves sexual relations of any sort. That’s not Surrogacy; it’s swinging. Surrogacy does not in any way, shape or form have anything to do with sex. So this Surrogacy issue can be completely laid to rest. But still it is considered to be against God.
Surrogacy: Against God
Religion and science have often been opponents in the past, and with the topic of ethical issues of Surrogacy, many are against Surrogacy for religious reasons. The Catholic Church, for example, has been quite clear on its stance on “Science Babies” for decades. But then again, the Catholic Church is also against birth control pills.
The BIBLE does not forbid the use of a Surrogate Parent but raises questions as to whether or not it is ethical. Marriage is designed to be between two people, and children are to be born of that union. 25 To bring in a third party means that the child will have a third parent. Then there may arise difficult questions, such as will the baby know its Surrogate Mother? Will there be visitation? How will the child be expected to feel about the Surrogate Mother, and will there be jealousy? Couples who use a family member as
Surrogate can often head off problems before they arise if the Surrogate has a strong bond with the couple and has their welfare and that of their child at heart. The Bible says that children are a Gift, not a right. Just as God blesses some people with wealth and success, He blesses some with children and others not.26
Using a Surrogate out of arrogant defiance of God would be a sin. In all we do, we must examine our Hearts and the Holy Spirit for truth. “Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, you must do all for the glory of God”. 27 Of course, Scripture could not directly address situations in which these reproductive technologies were available. But even though techniques like AID are not the subject of direct Biblical teaching, there are Biblical Principles that can be applied to these different methods of alleviating infertility. Christian traditions on the family, for example, has always assumed that children will be born into a stable family setting of monogamous marriage in which sexual relations between father and mother result in the child’s birth. The Principles underlying such an assumption are the integrity of the family and the continuity between procreation and parenthood. Adoption is widely recognized as an exception to the general rule, or an emergency solution to the tragic situation of an unwanted pregnancy. Just because the exceptional case is allowed, however, that does not justify it as the norm.
Further, a renowned Scholar Qadeer discusses several ethical issues that pertain to surrogacy. Technologies of selection, including ARTs, have made it possible to eliminate female and/or disabled foetuses. Yet if gender, disability, and infertility are all social constructs, then how can The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Actgive parents the absolute right to abort a disabled foetus?28 Isn’t that against God? She also raises ethical questions relating to compensation, health rights, and legal assistance for the Surrogate.
Catholicism and Natural Law
The Catholic tradition of Natural Law i.e., basing morality on the natural tendencies or function of a thing has also emphasized the continuity between procreation and parenthood, even to the point of denying the moral legitimacy of contraception, something that clearly interrupts that process.
This is also the basis for Catholic opposition to abortion and most reproductive technologies. If everything progresses as God designed it, sexual relations result in
conception and childbirth. In the same way that God designed an acorn to grow into an oak tree, He likewise designed sexual relations to come to fruition in the birth of a child. Thus there is a God-Designed, natural continuity between sex in marriage and parenthood. Every sexual encounter has the potential for conception, and every conception has the potential for childbirth and parenthood. This is why sex is reserved for marriage, and why catholic tradition makes little room for any reproductive technology that would interfere with a natural process that is the result of creation. It also rules out any third party involvement that would replace one of the partners in the married couple.
The most recent Vatican statement on Reproductive Technology put it this way: “The procreation of a new person, whereby the man and the woman collaborate with the power of the Creator, must be the fruit and the sign of the mutual self-giving of the spouses, of their love and fidelity….marriage and ….its indissoluble unity (provide) the only setting worthy of truly responsible procreation. In other words, only in Marriage is it morally legitimate to procreate children. A further statement clarifies the unity of sex and procreation, thereby ruling out most technological interventions for infertile couples: “But from a moral point of view procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not desired as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses’ union ….the procreation of a human person (is to be) brought about as the fruit of the conjugal act specific to the love between persons.” In other words, there is unity between sexual relations and procreation. Procreation cannot occur apart from marital sexual intercourse, and every conjugal act in marriage must be open to procreation as the natural result of God’s creation design.
For non-Catholics it may be problematic to assume that what is natural is also what is moral. This is what is known as the “Naturalistic Fallacy”. One cannot necessarily make the leap from the natural to the moral. As the British intuitionist philosopher
G.E. Moore has suggested, what’s natural is natural; nothing more and nothing less. A further problem with restrictions on reproductive technologies is that such restrictions may not be consistent with God’s creation mandate given to mankind to exercise dominion over the earth. God gave mankind the ability to discover and apply all kinds of technological innovations. It does not follow, of course, that mankind has the responsibility to use every bit of technology that has been discovered e.g. Certain types of genetic engineering, Nuclear weapons technology. But for the most part, technological innovations that clearly improve the lot of mankind are considered a part
of God’s common grace, or His general blessings on creation, as opposed to His blessings that are restricted to those who know Christ personally. It would appear that many of the reproductive technologies in question fit under the heading of common grace, and whether or not they should be used depends on whether such use violates a Biblical text or principle.
Thus, not only do scholars raise serious concerns about the morality and legality of Surrogacy, but many religious denominations have reservations about the use of many Assisted Reproductive Technologies like egg donation, sperm donation, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, and of course, Surrogacy, like the Roman Catholic Church condemns the use of all Assisted Reproductive Technologies because the official position of the Church is that procreation should not occur in the absence of sexual intercourse.29The Church also condemns sexual intercourse when it does not
have clear reproductive purposes.30
Beyond the objections of the Roman Catholic
Church, it has been noted that many other religions shun Assisted Reproductive Technologies for many of the same reasons that scholars object to them; they, too, believe that Surrogacy and other Assisted Reproductive Technologies objectify women and men and are exploitive and claim that Surrogacy is against God, that it is going too far with science, and should not be allowed.
Embryos and Personhood
Many people have ethical problems with IVF for whatever reason, primarily because the treatment often results in extra embryos that may or may not be transferred back into the mother at any point. In-Vitro Fertilization generally involves the creation of multiple embryos which are not all implanted in a woman’s uterus, bringing up ethical issues involving the sanctity of life for the additional embryos that are not implanted. For those who consider the embryo to be a human life, it is unethical to destroy the extra embryos for the same reason that these people believe abortion is wrong. The Catholic Church, for example, frowns on In-Vitro Fertilization because it views an embryo as a human life with rights.41 Yet the fact of extra embryos may be a benefit for some couples who prefer to undergo the embryo creation procedure only once and then save the extra embryos for an attempt to have a second child or to repeat the IVF procedure in the event that the first transfer is not successful. Still, the Pro-life advocates staunchly decry this fact as a waste of life, viewing frozen embryos as being equivalent to children.
Surrogate Pregnancy and Surrogate Motherhood are a topic of great debate worldwide. Thousands of people support Surrogacy and consider it as a boon to the hopeless. But, at the same time many groups of people would like to see an end to the practice of Commercial Surrogacy and cite ethical, social, economical, etc. issues as the cause. Surrogate motherhood has come a long way in the history of Surrogacy. From rarely spoken of Traditional Surrogacy’s of centuries past, to family members acting as Surrogate carriers and Commercial Surrogacy of today, the road has been long, and many miracles and hardships have been faced along the way. It will be interesting to see what will happen to the history of Surrogacy in the next 20, 50 or 100 years.
But as per my vista, which is being grounded on the in-depth study of all the relevant social and ethical aspects of Surrogacy, the researcher very firmly believes that, Government shall promote “ADOPTION” as the option to infertile couples for two reasons:
• Firstly, the statistics reveal that there are many unfortunate babies in this world who
has lost their parents and are orphans, due to mishaps and various other reasons, instead of bringing more children into this already overcrowded and difficult world, adoption shall be promoted. According to estimates, there are approximately 20 lakhs street children’s in India and if each of the childless couple adopts one of them, there would be a few left on the streets.
• Secondly, Surrogacy converts a child into a product. It fragments motherhood and
promotes detachment between a mother and the child. It dilapidates the institution of marriage. In India marriage is considered to be a sacrament and child the result of a marriage. This definition of marriage is distorted by the baby farming industry. And therefore I sternly contend that Surrogacy should be completely banned in India else it will deteriorate the Indian religious dogmas and virtues.
Here, I will conclude with a humble request to all those who are thinking to opt for Surrogacy, please adopt orphans and give them a family and shelter. It shall be very brutal on my part to say that it is the duty of infertile couples to adopt the orphans but no doubt your one decision to adopt an unfortunate baby can change their life.
1. The Associated Press (2007-12-30). “India’s surrogate mother business raises questions of global ethics”. Daily News. Retrieved at July 07, 2010
2. “India’s baby farm”.The Sun-Herald. 2008-01-06. Retrieved 2010-01-06., Indian women carrying babies for well-off buyers, ‘Wombs for rent’ pleases women and customers, but raises ethical questions; Monday, December 31, 2011; The Associated Press; CBC News; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, “Business is booming for India commercial surrogacy program” by Associated Press, Dated: Monday, December 31, 2010; The Albuquerque Tribune, NM, USA, Paid surrogacy driven underground in Canada: CBC report; Wednesday, May 2, 2010; CBC News; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
3. Scott, E. ‘Surrogacy and the Politics of Commodification’, 72 Law & Contemp. Probs. 109 (2009)
4. Hatzis, A. ‘Just the oven: a law & economics approach to gestational surrogacy contracts’, (2003)available at:www.ssrn.com/sol3 /papers.cfm?abstract.id=381621
5. Anderson, E.S. Is Women’s Labor a Commodity? Vol.19, 71-92. Philosophy and Public Affairs, (1990).
6. Burr, J. ‘Repellent to proper ideas about the procreation of children: Procreation and motherhood in the legal and ethical treatment of the surrogate mother’, 2:115-117 Psychology, Education and Gender (2000)
7. Pande, A. ‘Transnational commercial surrogacy in India: gifts for global sisters?’
23:618-625, Reproductive Medicine (2011)
8. McDermott, H. ‘Surrogacy policy in the United States and Germany: comparing the historical, economic and social context of two opposing policies’ Senior Capstone Projects, Paper 137, (2012)
9. Radin, Margaret Jane, 1988, ? Market Inalienability?, Harvard Law Review, 100: 1849–1937.
10. Field, Martha A, Surrogate Motherhood, 1988. 224p. Harvard University Press. As Field explains so vividly, the problem is not an absence of law but an excess of available law including contract law, criminal laws against baby selling, adoption laws, laws governing the rights of sperm donors, or those establishing the rights of unmarried biological parents. Given the flexibility of those various bodies of law, Field notes that any result could be supported depending upon the desires of society.
She, however, would propose that such surrogacy contracts be legal but unenforceable. That is, should the surrogate mother decide to keep the child, she would have the option of withdrawing from the contract. In this excellent work Field suggests the panoply of responses from which we as a society will choose, and she proposes a solution that seems to make a great deal of sense. Excellent notes and bibliography. — M.W. Bowers, Choice. Copyright 1983 The H.W. Wilson Company. All rights reserved.
11. Radin, Margaret Jane, Contested Commodities 136–39 (1996) (defending the ban against baby selling and arguing that “
onceiving of any child in market rhetoric wrongs personhood”).
12. Radin, Margaret Jane, Contested Commodities: The Trouble with Trade in Sex, Children, Body Parts, and Other Things (2001)
14. http://www.firstmotherforum.com/2009/12/surrogate-mother-wins-right-to-sue- for.html
15. Hochschild, A., The Back Stage of a Global Free Market. (2009). Retrieved on Sep 15, 2011 from http://www.havenscenter. org/files/backstage.global.free.market.pdf.
16. Rae, Scott B., The Ethics of Commercial Surrogate Motherhood.,Westport, Connecticut: Praeger (1994)
17. Damielo, Jennifer and Kelly Sorensen., “Enhancing Autonomy in Paid Surrogacy.”
Bioethics22(5): 269-277 (2008)
18. Anderson, E.S., Is Women’s Labor a Commodity? Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol.19, 71-92 (1990).She explains ‘Alienated labor’ in the twofold Hegelian sense, that is, as a situation in which (1) the product of labor is separated from its producer, but (2) in which it is separated from the producer precisely because the producer surrendered it to someone else and, more generally, to the market.
19. Niekerk, A.v. & Zyl, L.v., The Ethics of Surrogacy: Women’s Reproductive Labour.
Journal of Medical Ethics, 345–349 (1995)
20. Shah, C., Surrogate Motherhood and Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights. My Body, My Life, My Rights: Addressing Violations of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights. Bangkok: Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (2009)
21. See http://www.andrewkimbrell.org/andrewkimbrell/doc/surrogacy.pdf.
22. Anderson, E. Values in Ethics and Economics, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (1993)
23. Ertman, Martha. “What’s Wrong with a Parenthood Market? A New and Improved Theory of Commodification.” In The Reproductive Rights Reader: Law, Medicine, and the Construction of Motherhood, ed. Nancy Ehrenreich. New York: New York University Press 2008.
24. Iona Institute, The Ethical Case Against Surrogate Motherhood: What We Can Learn From the Law of Other European Countries, Dublin: Iona Institute (2012)
25. BOOK OF GENESIS, Chapter 1, pg 28, Chapter 2, pg 24
26. THE BIBLE, Psalm 127:3
27. THE BIBLE, Corinthians 10:31
28. Qadeer, I., Social and Ethical Basis of Legislation on Surrogacy: Need for Debate. Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, 28–31(2009)
29. Brittany Cravens, “Surrogacy Law? The Unparalleled Social Utility of Surrogacy and The Need for Federal Legislation”, Honors requirements, Department of Political Science at Wittenberg University, April 2010
30. Steinbock, Bonnie.,“Payment for Egg Donation and Surrogacy.” The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine 71 (4): 255-265 (2004)