An article in today’s news brings new meaning to offshore outsourcing.
In synopsis, clinics in India are providing full-service surrogate pregnancies to affluent Western women. The western parents-to-be get a bargain-priced baby, and the Indian surrogates make more money in a single pregnancy than they can make in a decade of hard manual labor.
According to the article, the Western parents-to-be are screened, and only those with evidence of medical problems impairing fertility are accepted as clients. Right. And – although I’ve never experienced the pain of infertility – whatever happened to playing the cards you were dealt?
And surrogate mothers are screened as well, they must be between 18 and 45, in good health, and have had at least one child. Once accepted, they live in the clinic, receiving constant medical observation, and their family is allowed to visit them. So, we’re creating a society where bearing another couple’s child rather than raising your own is a reasonable and acceptable bargain – if you’re poor enough?
This feels far closer to the dystopian future of Handmaid’s Tale than is comfortable for me. There is an an elite class of women whose wealth and circumstance confer upon them the opportunity to raise children – and an underclass of women whose poverty drives them to bear the medical risk and personal family consequences of giving birth to others’ children.
Who am I to tell these poor Indian women that they cannot rent out their wombs for more money than they can possibly make any other way? And for that matter, who am I to tell them that they cannot sell a kidney (they have a spare) nor a cornea (binocular vision isn’t essential)?
I’ll leave the ultimate question of right or wrong, good or bad, to those more versed in logical and ethical analysis. Personally, my gut reaction is that it’s wrong, wrong, wrong — classist, greedy, and oppressive.