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Debate: Surrogate mothers

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Should surrogate motherhood be allowed?

Background and context

A surrogate mother is a woman who carries and gives birth to a baby for another couple who are unable to have children in the normal way. This could be because the woman is unable to actually give birth, in which case the surrogate would carry the fertilised egg for the couple, or because the woman is not actually fertile, in which case the male’s sperm could be used to fertilise the surrogate’s egg by a surgical procedure. In the US, and in some other European countries it is legal for the surrogate to be paid for her role, in addition to expenses occurred. In the UK such payment is illegal, and indeed surrogacy itself is officially discouraged, by reports such as the Warnock report of 1984.

More background at Wikipedia: Surrogate mothers

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Parenthood: Is surrogacy an important means to parenthood for infertile couples?

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Yes

  • Surrogacy brings parenthood to couples unable of have children of their own. This is either due to biological circumstances ( for example infertile or same-sex couples ), or the unavailability of a child for adoption. The joy of parenthood is something that every couple should be able to experience.


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No

  • Parenthood, through surrogacy, is not a fundamental right. Contrary to the assumptions that underlie the proposition case, parenthood is not a fundamental human right. Besides, surrogacy is so controversial, and so traumatic for all concerned, that more conventional methods such as adoption should be used instead. Parents should not put their own desire to be parents over the possible damage it might cause to the baby.


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Commercial: Is surrogacy likely to be commercialized? Is this exploitative?

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Yes

  • Surrogacy need not involve money payments of any kind. Even if commercialisation does occur, it would be controlled by strict laws and regulated by independent bodies, as is currently the case in the US. If standard charges were fixed there would simply be no room for a market to develop, thus ensuring that all had access to a surrogate if they wanted.
  • Surrogacy is not inherently exploitative; exploitation can be minimized The argument that surrogacy is exploitative rests primarily on the economic conditions of a woman that might cause her to "involuntarily" offer her body in surrogacy in exchange for money. Yet, this does not mean that surrogacy is inherently exploitative and is not sufficient grounds for banning the practice. Measures need only be taken that will help minimize instances of exploitation.


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No

  • Surrogacy will inevitably become commercial. If there is a demand for surrogacy, there is little doubt that it will be commercialized by those looking to turn a profit on the practice.
  • Commercial surrogacy is exploitative. Commercial surrogacy would involve women ‘hiring out’ their wombs to the highest bidder. This might be motivated by a woman's poor economic circumstances. In any case, a women can be seen as offering the exploitation of her body for commercial gain.
  • Commercialize surrogacy will benefit the rich more than the poor. Even if charges are standardized, the high level of such a fee will still ensure that the rich are more likely to benefit than the poor, as they are more likely to be able to afford the cost. No case of parenthood should simply be decided by financial factors.


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Family friend: Should "a friend of the family" act as a surrogate mother?

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Yes

  • Surrogate mothers could be "a friend of the family" to avoid payments This could help avoiding any legal wrangling after the birth, which can often happen when strangers are involved. It would also avoid the situation where a child has a stranger as their natural mother, which has been known to cause them problems.


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No

  • It is a bad idea for surrogate mothers to be "friends of the family". This arrangement would in fact create more problems than it solved, as such an unofficial arrangement would be a legal nightmare if the surrogate decided ( as has often happened ) to keep the baby, as she would of course be the child’s legal mother. Important links are formed between mother and baby in the first nine months, and to forcibly sever these links would be devastating for all concerned. Also, it would be far more confusing and damaging for the child if their biological mother was someone who from an early age they had known as a friend of their ‘parents’.


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Enforcement: Is is impossible to enforce anti-surrogacy laws?

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Yes

  • On a practical note, no law against surrogacy could be enforced properly. It would merely lead to the physical impregnation of the surrogate by the would-be father, rather than a clean surgical procedure that avoided the emotional problems caused by an actual sexual act between the surrogate and the would-be father.


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No

  • The difficulty of enforcing surrogacy laws does not justify abandoning them. Even if there would be problems in enforcing a ban, we should still lay down the law; such an argument used against, say, growing cannabis at home would not invalidate a ban on drugs. Surrogacy is bad for both the mother and the child, and is beset by emotional problems for all concerned. Parents should not put their own interests above their child’s.


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Pro/con resources

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Yes

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No

External links

Books

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