Would you rent your womb? Should you?

The question in NY is whether or not to allow women’s wombs to be rented for purposes of paid surrogacy. In NY it’s Assembly Bill A1071C (contractual gestational surrogacy).

I think it’s a bad idea, and here are my reasons.

  1. Allowing wombs to be rented for the purposes of paid surrogacy is almost a textbook definition of exploitation of women. It is the commodification of female bodies.
  2. The argument is sometimes given that contractual surrogacy exploitation is no more exploitative than other jobs New Yorkers do. It’s not a viable argument that “because other exploitations are just as bad, this one is therefore justified.”
    • The real profit is earned by the lawyers, doctors, and middlemen. The women themselves are being exploited.
    • It has many similarities to prostitution and slavery. Hiring women’s bodies for sexual purposes, or forcing women, in certain cases, to do what the “master” says.
    • It has similarities to selling organs. “For a price you can have access to my reproductive organs.”
  3. It creates legal complications to who can claim parental rights.
    • Is the “employer” (the one who paid for the surrogacy) the parent?
    • Is the “employee” (the one whose womb it is) the parent?
    • Does the partner of the “employer”—someone who has no genetic and possibly no financial connection to the children—have parental rights?

One can easily see we are creating a societal and legal quagmire.

  • What consideration is being given to the child?
    • Research shows us that the most healthy environment for a child is in a home with a father and a mother.
  • Because of the expense, it strengthens the financial power imbalance between the rich and the poor, leading to the exploitation of lower-class women.
  • What happens in the event that the child has a genetic or physical deformity? Can they refuse to pay the woman carrying the child? Who gets to decide whether to kill the baby or let it live?
  • The potential for unethical behavior and circumstances in commercial surrogacy is so great that it far outweighs the proposed benefits. 

I read on the Internet that contractual gestational surrogacy is legal in 47 states, and in researching the matter, the advantage of it is that it allows same-sex couples to build families. Because of the moral and legal problems, I think we are wise to pursue other choices, but as in vitro fertilization or adoption.

And I think the danger to other countries is large. We are opening the door to a huge industry of renting “cheaper” wombs in other countries, even exacerbating the exploitation of women in those countries.

I just think the whole concept is a bad idea.

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