Invoking ‘Choice’ When Discussing Surrogacy as a Feminist Concern Is a Mistake


Editor’s note: A previous version of this commentary incorrectly stated that a number of countries, including Australia, “protect abortion rights far more strongly than the United States.” In fact, laws relating to abortion vary between each state in Australia, and the procedure remains illegal in many Australian jurisdictions. We regret the error.

It is troubling to see the vexing question of commercial surrogacy treated as a litmus test for feminists at RH Reality Check. While some lifelong supporters of women’s rights may see nothing problematic about contract pregnancy, others argue that it should be prohibited, and still others believe it should be allowed but carefully regulated. Contract pregnancy can’t be understood in a simplistic pro-choice versus anti-choice framework, or as only a matter of self-determination. Thirty years after “Baby M” and more than a decade after the emergence of a cross-border surrogacy industry, some of us are still unsure where we come down on commercial surrogacy. But it seems indisputable that the issue of contract pregnancy deserves careful thought.

We at the Pro-Choice Alliance for Responsible Research believe that social justice, safety, and human rights must be paramount in public policy and private practice in emerging biotechnologies, and we are striving to assess commercial surrogacy from that perspective. The surrounding quandaries are many and complex, especially for women working as surrogates and the children they bear, but also for commissioning parents. Consider:

  • By definition, commercial surrogacy operates in a market context. At a minimum, that means we should look closely at supply and demand, power and control, and workers’ safety and rights. In a world of stark inequalities, outright exploitation in cross-border surrogacy arrangements is not surprising.
  • In the real world, contract pregnancy is a class issue. We won’t see many women working as surrogates for people who are less privileged or affluent than they are.
  • Regulation of contract pregnancy varies wildly among countries, and within the United States it is mostly absent and usually inadequate. In most jurisdictions, for example, surrogacy brokers and agents are completely unlicensed. This policy hodgepodge has facilitated numerous scandals that have harmed surrogates, commissioning parents, and children, including the infamous case in which prominent surrogacy attorneys were running what the FBI termed an international “baby selling ring.”
  • Many women working as surrogates are subjected to strict limits on where they live and travel, whom they see, what they do, and what they eat. How many commissioning parents know that the women in India who will bear and deliver their children typically sign contracts in a language they cannot read, live apart from their own children for the duration of their pregnancy, are prohibited from seeking independent medical advice, and must sign away their abortion rights?
  • Contract pregnancies are often delivered by cesarean section in the absence of medical indication, in large part for the convenience of commissioning parents. C-sections carry greater risk for both mother and baby—especially for women who may subsequently have children of their own without ready access to high-tech medical care. Many countries have chosen to ban surrogacy, including the Scandinavian countries, the UK, France, and Canada. By any social indicator, all are more “feminist” and protect abortion rights far more strongly than the United States.

Even these brief notes demonstrate that surrogacy is a complex issue for all those involved. From the point of view of commissioning parents, surrogacy involves not only themselves but the woman who is carrying the child or children they have commissioned and, more and more often, another woman from whose ovaries eggs will be harvested. From the point of view of women working as surrogates, it’s about whether, and under what conditions and restrictions, and for what payment, to undertake a pregnancy for someone else. And let’s not forget the interests of the children who result from contract pregnancies.

We need to insist on adequate safety data, responsible policies and oversight, and more information to help women make informed choices, whether they are providers or buyers of surrogacy services. Until those conditions are in place, we can’t know whether a surrogacy arrangement is a truly informed and non-coercive contract in which all understand the short-term and long-term implications. We know enough about on-the-ground conditions of commercial surrogacy (and commercial egg retrieval) to be convinced that caution is warranted, and that policies to help ensure everyone’s rights and well-being are needed.

The commercial surrogacy market is growing and spreading rapidly. Because third parties are involved, the messy issues it raises are appropriate matters for public policy. They are also matters about which feminists should think carefully. Having insisted so powerfully on women’s rights, how do we ensure that we are not pitting one woman’s rights and well-being against another’s? Having fought so hard for our own bodily autonomy, do we really want to partake in arrangements that curtail other women’s?

We need this conversation and we need it soon. Shutting down careful examination of commercial surrogacy is not in our interests. Invoking “choice” and “paternalism,” as if those were the final words about contract pregnancy, is a mistake. These moves ill serve all the parties to commercial surrogacy arrangements, our own political and intellectual integrity, and our ongoing struggles for reproductive justice.

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  • lioness

    Thank you for that article. I would like to add that there is another voice that needs to be considered. We have not heard from the adult children born to surrogate mothers about what issues surrogacy has caused in their lives. I have no idea what that research will show, but it’s a question that needs to be asked.

    • rob908

      Of the few adult children of surrogacy interviews that I have read, it seems that the children with negative reactions are those who were lied to and told that they were the natural children, born naturally of the parents who raised them. The relevation, in adulthood (or teenage-hood), of their origins in surrogacy attacked their fundamental sense of self-identity. They led them to question what else they had been lied to about. Like open adoption, if a child of surrogacy is always told (in evolving age-appropriate ways) of the circumstances of their birth, there may be curiosity, but their self-identity will never be undermined.

    • Julie Watkins

      I wonder if there’s enough adults or young adults who were born to surrogates yet for this kind of study to be done.

      The idea of commercial surrogacy has been something I’ve pondered recently, without coming to any conclusions, other than not a decision I need to make personally (I’m past menopause & we don’t want children).

      However, I have a friend whose who has a grandkid that was gestated by a surrogate. From her tone of voice, I *think* she’s ambivalent — I didn’t feel I should pry. I’m definitely ambivalent. I know the surrogate lived in a nearby state, not India or etc. I think there was a contract involved — but that’s just a possibly-wrong assumption based on my friend not offering any information about the surrogate being a relative or friend.

      I think commercial surrogacy should be regulated. On the other hand, I think the current government “regulation” of banks is a joke and I don’t know if I’d trust the government to do a reasonable job of regulation. I think a “best practices” sort of social pressure would be a better route. If there could be a series of conferences set up where representatives of all pertinent groups could get together and work out reasonable goals and an accreditation system I think that would help.

  • Lynnsey

    Thank you. This was great. This is SUCH a complex issue. Commercial surrogacy does not happen in a vacuum and yet nearly all the conversations where it’s talked about it in terms of choice seem to ignore the huge power differential that usually exists between the surrogate and the comissioning parents and the vast range of dynamics that might impact the surrogate and her decisions.

    • rob908

      You bring up two important issues of discussion with regard to choice in commercial surrogacy. The first is the power differential between comissioning parents are the surrogate. The parents have the desire for family creation and the money (saved, given, or borrowed) for compensating the surrogates and covering the IVF and pregnancy-related expenses. The surrogate has the ability to carry a child to term, the willingness to do so (and the pre-pregnacy IVF-related procedures) in exchange for compensation, and a declared willingness to turn over the baby to the parents after birth. Surrogates in India may be vulnerable to exploitation because of the controlled, dormitory life that they seem compelled into living during the term of their pregnancy. It there were some three-party “OSHA”-life organization that would make regular inspections, that might improve conditions OR, at least, prevent them form degenertating. In America, surrogates typically remain in their homes and enjoy a greater degree of independence and autonomy. A model surrogancy process contains a phase where the contract between the parents and the surrogate is reviewed by attorneys for bothe sides. This attorney review would ideally protect the surrogate for unreasonable terms and conditions.

      • Lynnsey

        I think that you’re vastly oversimplifying the ease with which some organization would be able to ensure that the surrogates’ “willingness” to carry a child was authentic. There are coercive factors even here in the US. Some are overt, but many are more subtle. Just because a woman in a country other than India isn’t locked in a dormitory it doesn’t indicate that her choice was completely her own. That’s a big part of the complexity of trying to regulate this.

        • rob908

          What would be the standard for determining consent? I am not a lawyer so I do not know if consent is more that being of legal age, being of sound mind, and evidencing your consent with your signature at the bottom of the contract. I will say, however, that a surrogate candidate in America, working with a reputable clinic, will have had the full process explained and have undergone a psych screen well before any procedure is performed.

          • Arekushieru

            Well, considering that surrogacy does not, in and of itself, occur within a vacuum where women are not, by and large, expected to bear, raise or otherwise be involved in the production of children and where the majority of the responsibility for the building, labour and delivery that goes into that production does not largely rest on those who are female-bodied, I don’t think that we can say that surrogacy will ever be free of some kind of coercion or be without lack of consent, in one form or another, unfortunately.

          • rob908

            With respect, I have re-read your single 91-word sentence several times and I am still unsure of what you are saying. I believe you are stay that surrogacy will never be free os some kind of coercion do some gender essentialism BUT that surrogacy will never be without lack of consent. The first part is bad but the second part is good… maybe?

          • colleen2

            I am CLEARLY not speaking about regulated surrogacy arrangements in the US. I am CLEARLY focusing on the surogacy industries in 3rd world countries. They are in those countries for NO OTHER REASON than to exploit low income women. I have lived in India. The poor have no power at all and parents regularly sell their children to brothels . The notion that those women have a ‘choice’ or even manage to keep that money is a Republican lie.

          • rob908

            You CLEARLY are against international surrogacy. You also seem CLEARLY against the GOP. Unfortunately, you make the fallacy of believing that which you are opposed to MUST be supported by the group to which you are opposed.
            The GOP is against abortion and against stem-cell research because it believes that “life begins at conception.” Surrogacy involves fertilizing a lot of eggs “in-vitro” and then implanting some of those eggs. This means that surrogacy *necessarily* involves the destruction of a lot of eggs (the ones that are not implanted). If you google laws/bills which outlaw surrogacy, you will find that most have be sponsored by Republicans. Their position doesn’t change with the crossing of a border.
            On this issue, you are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Republican Party.

          • colleen2

            I am a woman and a feminist. Of course I am not a Republican and of course I am opposed to the values of the GOP. Every decent person I know is.

          • rob908

            Then why do you agree with them?

      • colleen2

        Are you a lawyer? Is this something you do for a living?

        • rob908

          I am not a lawyer. I don’t do this for a living.

    • rob908

      The second issue you raised is the vast range of dynamics that might impact the surrogate and her decisions. In America, women who make good candidates as surrogates will have had children of their own (as a proof of the ability to carry a pregnancy to term). They will undergo a psych screen (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 [MMPI-2]). Most surrogates, when interviewed, relate that they have had easy pregnancies and enjoy pregnancy. Most commercial surrogates are stay-at-home mothers who are seeking a means of making money while being able to remain stay-at-home. Pregnancy is an occupation that they can do (by no means the only – just one), enjoy doing, and, most importantly, one in which they play a central and essential role in helping another person (or couple) create or expand their family. This last part is the most important aspect for a commercial surrogate – it’s a job that makes a real difference in the lives of others.

      • choice joyce

        I agree, I’ve heard surrogate mothers talk about their experiences in mostly positive terms, in just the way rob908 describes. This is not to say that others aren’t exploited in one way or another, but it’s crucial that we not lose sight of the fact that being a surrogate can be a valid, enjoyable, and empowering choice for women, not least because it’s a way to make money and support their families.

        Keeping it legal in developed countries has several advantages: it greatly reduces the need to use surrogates from developing countries where there are far fewer protections for women; it ensures more oversight and safeguards for all parties, and helps to ensure a more level playing field between the parties.

      • Lynnsey

        I never denied that there are women, especially those in developed nations, who really do make this choice completely of their own volition (despite my being utterly dismayed at the prospect, having had two children of my own). The fact that these women exist doesn’t remove the complexity of determining that or ensuring women who aren’t in that same situation, whether here or elsewhere, ARE and that is both incredibly important and highly difficult. That has to be part of the conversation around this.

      • fiona64

        Your creepy reduction of women to EasyBake Ovens (“pregnancy is an occupation,” which means you see it as a woman’s *job,* as the EasyBake Oven’s “job” is to make tiny cakes) squicks me out more than you can possibly imagine.

        • rob908

          I was careful in using the word “occupation” exactly because I did not want to reduce women to objects (EasyBake Ovens in your example). I’m sorry if I was unclear. With regard to commercial surrogacy (the topic of this article), some women choose to become pregnant with children that are intended (since before conception) to be someone else’s and these women do so (in part) for compensation (i.e., an occupation as oppose to a profession or a career). I did not say, never said, and world never say that pregnancy is something that every woman *should* (as a d moral duty) do. I hope you are less squicked.

          • fiona64

            I appreciate your clarification.

          • colleen2

            You did not take enough care. The easy bake oven role shines through when you deny the obvious exploitation and opportunity for exploitation. Your calling for an unregulated overseas surrogacy market and pretending that leaving it unregulated would decrease the opportunities for exploitation is affords no other characterization. For you, these women are breeding livestock. And I have NO DOUBT that you consider yourself ‘pro-life’.

          • rob908

            Wow! When reality disagrees with your fantasy, you alter reality to conform to your fantasy. I have repeatedily advocated *FOR REGULATION* in the form of an international convention or, failing that, a set of guidelines that would provide transparency and protections for women. But that was too reasonable a position for someone who did not reflexively agree to you, so it is much simpler for you to accuse me of saying the opposite of what I actually said. I find that arguing with an actual person is slightly harder than the strawmen that you consistently like setting up.
            Have you considered becoming a Fox News panelist, because fact-free outrage seems to be what you are good at.

  • colleen2

    I must admit that when I heard of the practice of employing women in poor countries by paying them absurdly small amounts of money to gestate a child I was and remain, revolted. Also, I’ve never understood why these women don’t simply adopt one of the already born children in the Foster care system. But to use another woman like that, that isn’t feminism.

    • rob908

      When someone wonders why comissioning women “don’t simply adopt one of the already born children”, I wonder if that someone would offer the same advice to women capable of and planning on having children in the “traditional” way. After all, the logic of adopting a child in need of a parent instead of creating another child applies equally to the reproductively-capable as well as the reproductively-challenged.

      • Mindy McIndy

        Well, not everyone who can afford to have a child the traditional way can afford to adopt a child, which costs exponentially more and can take a lot longer. As someone who has adoptees in her family, the cost for them has been ridiculously high and if they weren’t upper middle class, they wouldn’t have been able to afford it.

      • lady_black

        No, it really doesn’t. Sex is free. Adoption is expensive. And paying women cash to use their bodies is revolting.

        • rob908

          Adoption is expensive but children in foster care still need homes. In saying that comissioning mothers should “simply” adopt, colleen2 makes light of that and suggesting that those women who are incapable of having children have a moral duty that is never imposed on women who are capable.

          • Lynnsey

            I think there’s a pretty big difference between wondering why someone who (most likely) didn’t spend anything to get pregnant didn’t adopt instead and why someone who made a different but also sizable financial investment (that is, surrogacy) didn’t. I don’t think it has to do with holding anyone to some moral duty or making light of adoption.

          • rob908

            If adoption is not a moral duty. If adoption is expensive and time-consuming, and fraught with uncertainty, then is it so inconceivable that a woman might choose surrogacy instead?

          • colleen2

            I suggested adoption because the person in question wanted to raise a child, I certainly would never present adoption as a moral duty. That is YOUR characterization. I believe I have been clear about my objections to surrogacy. Perhaps if you views the surrogates as actual persons rather than things that gestate babies for wealthy white couples that would help.

          • rob908

            I apologize for mischaracterizing your position. I woud state you are mischaracterizing my position in suggesting it viewing surrogates has things and not actual women. My objection is your initial comment that women “simply adopt one of the already born children.” As many other commenters have stated, adoption is not simple. I might also add that adoption is expensive, can take years, and full of uncertainty.

          • colleen2

            My apologies. You were clearly avoiding even a mention of the exploited surrogates women simultaneously attacking me for something I had not said and accusing me of expressing a “moral duty”. It was simply too much bullshit and projection. Beieve me, the lAST people I want to see adopting any children are the religious right. Particularly the “To Raise up a Child” and the ‘Quiverful movements.
            I notice that you STILL refuse to address the actual issue I brought up, that of the exploitation of poor women and, of course, the curious claim that exploiting women in this manner is ‘feminist’. And, seriously, if all you can afford to pay the woman generous enough to gestate your child is a few hundred dollars then how can you reasonably claim to be in a position to adopt a child in a responsible manner? My concerns with adoption are 1. the child 2. whatever woman gestated that child. Your concern appears to be acquiring children other women have gone through the hard and dangerous work of gestating as cheaply as possible.

          • rob908

            A long response from me has disappeared into the ether.
            I wanted to direct you attention to the article, “Wombs for Rent – Surrogate Mothers in India” by Abagil Haworth on WebMD.com. The article states that an Indian surrogate is “paid between $5,000 and $7,000 — the equivalent to upwards of 10 years’ salary for rural Indians.” This is greater by a factor of 10 than the several hundred dollars you believe these women are paid. The sum is still much less than the $20-25K that an American surrogate receives, but relative to the much different cost of living between the two countries, the amount is equivalent to a six-figure sum in the United States.
            For the young Indian mothers who elect to become surrogates, it may be their ONLY chance at a nest egg, as a sum of money they have use to pay for their children’s educations, to invest in a business, to build a home, and to have as insurance against the vulgarities of the future.
            Now, can women be exploited – certainly. But exploitation occurs in areas that are unregulated or outlawed. That’s why I support legalization and regulation of this field. Women who undertake to become surrogates should give informed consent, pysch screening and counselling, not be penned in cattle, paid what they’re promised, and be insured against any harm that they might suffer in the course of surrogacy.

          • fiona64

            ^^ This.

            I must add my own tuppence on the matter; the anti-choice are constantly screaming at women to “just give the baby up for adoption; there are millions who want your baby” (despite the reality of hundreds of thousands of kid awaiting homes). Paying women in third-world countries, where regulation of surrogacy may not be as strict, is in my mind no different from buying a child outright.

          • colleen2

            “In saying that comissioning mothers should “simply” adopt, colleen2
            makes light of that and suggesting that those women who are incapable of
            having children have a moral duty that is never imposed on women who
            are capable.”

            I am not imposing a “moral duty”, I am suggesting that paying a desperately poor woman a few hundred dollars to gestate a child for you is exploitative and the sort of thing a Republican woman would do. I am objecting to the notion that exploiting other women in this manner is feminism. That is quite different from imposing a “moral duty”.

            I do not believe that a woman’s infertility grants her the right to exploit other women in this manner and still be called a feminist. But, then, I DO understand why Republican women want to be seen as ‘feminist;’ while they exploit other women and the poor.

          • rob908

            I think we are replying to each other at the same time and therefore not actually *conversing*. I’ve just replied to your initial comment with an article reference on what Indian surrogates are paid in order to bring some facts into the discussion.

          • Shannon

            The going rate for surrogacy in the US is 25000 to 35000 for first time surrogates. I can’t think of a single job I can get right now that pays that with my education and experience. Plus I can work while being a surrogate! Now that is just here in the US, but as a “poor” person I think that is pretty great.

        • lioness

          Sex may be free, but pregnancy is expensive.

      • colleen2

        After all, the logic of adopting a child in need of a parent instead of
        creating another child applies equally to the reproductively-capable as
        well as the reproductively-challenged.

        Since when?

        • colleen2

          I have lived in India. I believe the going rate in Guatemala and parts of central America are considerably cheaper. You are CLEARLY defending this practice and even presenting the exploitation of these women as something that is GOOD for them. Why claim to be doing something that you clearly ARE doing? I find your expressins of concern for the rural poor in India about as convincing as the GOP line that we invaded and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan to save the women.

          • rob908

            Can you provide a citation of going rates in Guatemala/central America? The only information I have is from the WebMD article, so I would welcome any facts from a reputable source.

          • colleen2

            This was the article that I was referring to:

            http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2010/05/20/human-rights-business-reproduction-surrogacy-begins-replace-international-adoption-guatemala/

            This blog is an excellent resource. Please answer my questions directly.

          • rob908

            Thank you for referring me to this article. In Guatemala, this practice appears to fail in a gray area – neither explicitly legal nor illegal. I believe that making it illegal would not end the practice and would likely have the unintended result of putting vulnerable women in greater risk. My hope is that a new international convention for surrogacy would be developed like that for adoption which would bring transparency and protection to women in this practice. Failing that a set of guidelines that reputable agency would submit with an independent watchdog organization to provide oversight.

          • colleen2

            Yes, well, you certainly ARGUE like a Republican. I am amused that you believe paying a woman 1500.00 to gestate a baby is a “grey area” but thanks again for answering the question.

          • rob908

            I’m curious as to *how* I argue like a Republican. I have sought facts, provided facts, considered opposing views in the way they seemed intended and avoided twisting them to serve my own purposes. I have advocated practical policy approaches to ensuring the safety of women.

            I have not, like many people on cable news and on internet forums, adopted angry, strong-held opinions that were either based on no facts, erroreous beliefs, or resorted to attacking *NOT* differing opinions but the people who hold them.

    • Shannon

      It’s not always women that choose surrogacy.

    • spankym

      Ugh. I am so tired of hearing this “just adopt” statement. First, in the U.S. at least there are not orphanages full of children waiting for homes as you must be imagining. There haven’t been orphanages in the U.S. for fifty years or more. There is a foster care system that has the mission of reuniting children with biological family members under almost any situation so if you foster a child, chances are very high that someday a family member will come forward (get out of jail or out of rehab) and have full legal rights to take the child back. Then there is the private adoption market that is *expensive*, full of obstacles and also fraught with legal issues like many states allowing birth mothers to change their minds and take children back that they had given up for adoption. Oh, and if you think it is exploiting a poor woman with absolutely no hope for a future for themselves or their family out of poverty by paying them the equivalent of 10-20 years salary to be a surrogate you should think more about it.

      • colleen2

        I do not imagine there are orphanages nor did I mention orphanages. You mention orphanages and have acquired a new handle in order to discredit. I imagine there is a foster care system. I imagine there are adoption fairs and, of course, online resources. I am sorry you are “sick” of hearing about these children. Here are some photographs of a few. http://adoption.com/adoptable-kids/oned the foster care system.
        Republicans need to understand that children are not a commodity, women who gestate are not a commodity and that other people’s children do NOT belong to them.

  • choice joyce

    I object to the authors’ unfair criticism and misrepresentation of the article “Is Preventing Surrogacy Feminist?” The author of that piece, Erin Matson, was critiquing two proponents of outright prohibition of surrogacy, one of whom was anti-choice. Matson insightfully and rightly compared some of their objections to anti-choice views in general that paternalize women and remove their agency. Just because the issue is more complex than the level at which Matson dealt with it, does not diminish her valid points, which I think are an extremely important aspect to keep in mind on this issue, not something to be dismissed outright as the above authors do. Also, Matson of course never implied her view was the “final words” on the subject, they are just part of the overall picture.

    The authors of the piece above are not advocating for a complete ban, they “insist on adequate safety data, responsible policies and oversight, and more information to help women make informed choices.” Likewise, Matson never said that surrogacy shouldn’t be regulated to prevent abuses and exploitation, she only said it shouldn’t be banned. So the positions of Matson and the above authors appear to be the same in that regard.

    The key thing to keep in mind is that if something like this is banned or even too heavily regulated, it sends it underground where women are subject to even greater dangers and exploitation. Because surrogacy is banned in Canada, women simply go to the U.S. or abroad for services. That invites even MORE potential exploitation, and it also accentuates the class issue by ensuring that only wealthy women will have access to surrogacy. Exactly the type of outcomes the above authors deplore.

  • Lynnsey

    And just because your experience (or even that of a few others you know) has been good, doesn’t mean that it’s all rainbows and unicorn farts for all women even here in the US. You say you can’t speak for women in other countries, but you ignore the fact that you can’t speak for all surrogates here, either.

    I’m glad your experience has been a positive one. I imagine it is for many women. I’m sure that women who do *choose* this for themselves ARE just as smart and knowledgeable as me. The problem is that surrogacy around the world (and sometimes closer to home) often IS exploitative and that needs to be addressed in conversations about it and how it’s going to be managed if it’s going to become increasingly common and commercialized.

    • rob908

      Lynnsey, how dismissive you are of Shannon and all because she is the ONLY one here who does not speak for ALL women, ALL surrogates, and ALL women in other countries.
      In reviewing your comments, you have stated repeatedily that surrogacy has huge issues “that needs to be addressed in conversations.”
      Can you actually start *conversing* – offering opinions, facts, policy proposals…something besides repeating the need for conversations?

      • Lynnsey

        I wasn’t dismissive. I’m glad her experience was a good one. Her description of the process sounds like a good model to start from in situations where women are unlikely to be experiencing coercion when making the decision. Unfortunately, on a global scale, those situations are probably the exception rather than the rule so we can’t just act like there aren’t issues (that the article we’re all commenting on addressed, so I feel little need to repeat them over and over) that have to be considered as this becomes increasingly common.

        • Shannon

          You were extremely dismissive. I never said it was rainbows and unicorn farts as you put it.
          To become a surrogate in this country is a long involved process and has been for years. It would take a enormous effort to force someone to be a surrogate. First you would have to some how pass the psychological evaluations and the home checks, then there is all the physical exams and blood work. Meetings with intended parents, lawyers, fertility clinic staff and doctors. Not to mention the staff at the surrogacy company. Then you have all the shots and pills. The actual transfer and pregnancy. Unless it’s some huge conspiracy how is all of that going to happen? It’s not. I am sure there are women or there that didn’t understand what they were getting into, or felt pressure to help support the family. But you seem to have this idea that all surrogates or the majority are somehow tricked or forced to do this. How do you think that is happening? You want to have a conversation about the subject but you don’t want to hear all the sides. It seems like you just want to hear people agree with you.

          • Lynnsey

            You yourself just admitted that there are most likely women (I’m guessing that you mean in this country) that feel pressured to be surrogates. As far as I’m concerned that’s not much better than being “tricked” or “forced”. It means that this decision is not freely made and THAT is the key, whether it’s India or Indiana.

            Again, I was not dismissing your experience. I’m (for what must be the third time) glad that *you* had positive experience (which, along with others who have, can certainly help instruct a positive model moving forward). However, it doesn’t erase the potential problems of increasingly commercialized surrogacy on a global scale (which is how we must view it by virtue of how it actually occurs in practice). We don’t get to say, “well, it’s working pretty well for most women in the US” and call it a day. Honestly, you seem to be the one who dismisses the reality of women who didn’t make this choice from the position of relative privilege that you indicate you had.

          • Shannon

            I said there are women that feel pressure to help support the family. Don’t twist my words to support your views. You again didn’t answer my questions. You also seem to be unwilling or unable to see any good in surrogacy. So with that in mind I am done trying to have an actual discussion with someone that is clearly unable or unwilling to hear or understand it isn’t as black and white as she clearly believes it to be. Have fun brow beating everyone else to your point of view.

          • colleen2

            We are NOT talking about becoming a surrogate in this country.

          • Shannon

            Actually we are. The post above and the article it relates to have to do with surrogacy in other countries and the US.

          • colleen2

            OK, I am not talking about being a surrogate in this country. I have no interest in that. I am talking about the unregulated industry in third world countries that rob908 is trying to sell as feminism and good for the surrogates. . Do YOU think it’s OK to pay a woman in Guatemala 1500. dollars to gestate a child?

      • colleen2

        I find your posts dismissive of anyone who cares at all about the women you are exploiting.

  • colleen2

    Shannon….you are NOT a surrogate in India or Guatemala. I am sorry that you are unable to acknowledge or understand that what is happening to them is exploitative and as ugly as any sex trafficking ring.

    • Shannon

      I am not unable to acknowledge or understand the issues at hand. I get there are women in 3rd world countries that to our views are being under paid or not paid at all. I get it. I’m not stupid or blind. I am responding to comments that women who chose this are all somehow coerced or tricked into as the above comments state. I was trying to have a conversation but instead find myself attacked on all sides for not believing the same as you and Linnsey.

      • Lynnsey

        No one here has ever said that *every* woman who engages in surrogacy is stupid or tricked into it. No one. Further, you keep accusing people of “not seeing the good in surrogacy” when most of the posters here haven’t even weighed in on whether they think the act of surrogacy in and of itself is problematic, so you’re making a lot of assumptions yourself. For the umpteenth time, YOUR positive experience does not negate the real issues that impact other women here and abroad. Maybe you should use your experience to champion reform that protects other women instead of dismissing the reality of the situation for women less privileged than yourself.

        The reality IS that many women around the world ARE forced into it, whether that is through physical intimidation or social/economic coercion. What the majority of posters who you feel “attacked” by are arguing is that, because of the global nature of the actual practice of surrogacy, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that women are making this decision without coercion. I’m somewhat taken aback that you “don’t believe the same.”

        • rob908

          You make a statement of fact, “The reality IS that many women around the world ARE forced into it [surrogacy].” Can you provide the source for your information (a citation, a weblink)? I’m no expert so would be very interested.

      • colleen2

        Would you allow to possibility that the situation of those women is really very different from yours? My comments have never been directed towards women who have freely chosen to work as surrogates. Or women who work as surrogates at all. It is an unregulated and cruel international industry I am objecting to…the women in poor countries are much easier to exploit. What rob908 does not tell you is that parents sell their tiny daughters to brothels in Indiat. It is a nation where women and particularly poor women, can be forced to do pretty much anything.

        • rob908

          Are you saying that it is impossible for a woman in a developing country to give free (un-coerced) consent?

          • colleen2

            No, I am saying that you are either dishonest or ignorant about the situation of these women.

          • rob908

            In your responses to Shannon, it seemed that you accepted that a woman in a developed country could give free consent. Acknowledging that consent may be coerced, what measures would you propose to ascertain how freely consent is given.

  • Sonia Marie

    Hi, Re the editor’s note on abortion in Australia. It is true that each state/territory has its own laws regulating abortion, and that the laws vary across the country. It is also true that there are instances in which it is ‘unlawful’ to conduct an abortion across the states/territories. However, in all states/territories there are recognised circumstances in which it is ‘lawful’ to conduct an abortion. In NSW, Qld, S.A., N.T, abortion is lawful if woman’s physical or mental health at risk, (this has been interpreted to also include social and economic impact in some state judgments); in the other states/territories (Vic, ACT, Tas, W.A.) the law has moved to there being no reason necessary up to certain no. of weeks (with other criteria including such things as informed consent, and pertaining to who may perform the abortion). Anyway, the article (which is great) goes on to focus upon surrogacy, so not sure how important this comment is, but wanted to be clear that ‘lawful’ abortions may be performed across Australia in all states/territories, and although there are criminal sanctions re ‘unlawful’ abortions, it is not correct to
    say that abortion remains illegal in some states without qualification.

  • Jennifer Starr

    Aboacy? What does that even mean in English? I don’t even understand what you’re saying here. Did you actually read the article before you spewed this poorly-spelled word salad?