Before we proceed it's important to mention that there are different types of surrogacy.
Some types of surrogacy refer to the genetic circumstances and others types refer to the types of arrangement (is money involved or not!).
There are 3 types of genetic surrogacy circumstances:
There are 2 types of surrogacy arrangements:
Let's now proceed with what this article is really about, namely the ethics of surrogacy.
Why is it that every time someone mentions the topic of surrogacy, giant waves of powerful emotions come washing in from both pro and con surrogacy camps?
One of the reasons is that surrogacy is balancing on a very sharp ethical edge when mixing the perceived 'sacred' process of reproduction and having children with work and money. Many people believe that these two domains should not mix.
Just so that you know, I'm neither pro nor con surrogacy - I'm just interested in exploring the philosophical and emotional dimensions of the ethics of surrogacy.
I will now present you with a list of the pros and cons of surrogacy. I will not comment on them or judge them - I will just list them and then leave the opinion making of the ethics of surrogacy up to you.
In both cases one can view the women as selling physical, intimate, bodily services. Selling their bodies and their function for money!
So what's the problem with alienated labor? Many people work and are not emotionally attached to the 'product' of their work or the work process for that matter.
Well, the difference with surrogacy (or prostitution for that matter) is that we're talking about physical reproductive labor.
Reproduction is something that many people believe belong in the private sphere and should be surrounded with respect and emotional attachment.
According to people against surrogacy, women's reproductive capacities should not be used as physical labor and the status of a child, should not be relegated to that of a commodity.
(If you want to read more about the ethics of surrogacy and the discussion of alienation, you might like this surrogacy article)
Normally the child is the end goal in a pregnancy. For the surrogate mother the child becomes the means (as distinct from the goal), for something else, namely money.
When the child becomes a means, the child is commoditized, speakers against surrogacy claim.
The argument here is that people have a moral duty to care for the already existing children in need of a loving caring family rather than proceed to make new babies into an already too crowded world.
Needless to say that surrogacy can be a very expensive affair and it is therefore not an option for those of few financial means. However, contrary to myth, many commissioning couples are not rich in the traditional sense but middle class / upper middle class.
The surrogate mothers are typically, but not always, in the lower income range and therefore a typical argument is, "The rich are exploiting the poor!"
The typical reason for couples choosing Indian surrogate mothers over Western surrogate mothers is that they are cheaper.
This was a relatively long list of arguments against surrogacy. Let's now turn our attention to the pro arguments in the discussion of the ethics of surrogacy.
Today up to 10% of American women have difficulties getting pregnant. For couples who dream of having their own children, infertility is frustrating and stressful.
Having children and fulfilling the wish for a family with the help of a surrogate mother is therefore a possibility of living out that dream.
The whole paperwork process along with psychological evaluations and waiting list etc. may take many years.
Most of these women have a positive experience and feel satisfied in what they perceive as an altruistic gesture (even though they are getting paid).
Voices from Surrogate Mothers - Why I Did It
In this article you'll hear the story from 5 different surrogate mothers on why they chose to carry babies that they were not supposed to raise themselves. What is interesting is when they admit that their feelings are not all black and white.
The Moral Implications of Motherhood by Hire
An article by Trevor Allisis (a lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the Sophia College for Women, Mumbai) in which he raises ethical concerns and potential moral implications of surrogacy.
Do you have a personal opinion surrogacy? Share it right here!
Perhaps you're considering surrogacy, already have experiences with surrogacy or just feel like sharing your philosiphical insights - whatever the case, this is the place.
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Rights of the Child
(Visitor's opinion): A child has the natural right to be raised by their natural father and natural mother. With surrogacy, we start with the intent to …
Surrogacy: A God Sent
(Visitor's opinion): I have always wondered why surrogacy could be considered wrong. Giving people the chance to bring a new child into this world seems …
I'm Alive Thanks to Surrogacy Not rated yet
(Visitor's experience): My mother couldn't carry any children so my parents went to California so they could have me and my brother thanks to a Wonderful …
Surrogacy and Egg Donation
- A Mother's Tale Not rated yet
(Visitor's story) If you think about your feelings to a child who was not born with your own egg, it means you are not yet at the necessary stage of expectations …
Surrogacy Is a Personal Event, a Personal Decision Not rated yet
(Visitor's opinion on the ethics of surrogacy:) I believe surrogacy is such a personal event that we cannot understand until we are put into a circumstance …
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