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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.