India allows its most destitute women to be exploited as if they were brood mares. A surrogacy industry recruits illiterate women, and pays them a pittance to gestate babies on behalf of well off (mostly) Westerners who can’t (or don’t want to) bear their own children.
A new Indian study on the industry illustrates some of the serious problems associated with this form of biological colonialism — including forced abortion, sex selection, and baby abandonment. From, “Surrogate Motherhood: Ethical or Commercial” (PDF, my emphasis):
Surrogacy degrades a pregnancy to a service and a baby to a product. Experience shows that like any other commercial dealing the customer lays down his/her conditions before purchasing the goods. The surrogate may be forced to terminate the pregnancy if so desired by the contracting couple and she will not be able to terminate it if it is against the desire of the couple. She has difficulty in keeping her own baby. There have been instances where the contracting individual has specified the sex of the baby as well, refused to take the baby if it is not normal, and filed a suite against the surrogate saying she had broken the contract.
Where is the morality in that? What I see are foreign people wanting what they want and they don’t care who gets hurt so long as they get it. More from the report:
Most of the surrogate mothers we interviewed were not willing to answer questions on how they felt after relinquishing the child; however field level observation notes that the surrogate mothers would feel attached to the babies even though they were not biologically their own children.
Of course they get attached! That’s part of the biological process of gestation. Then, they have to pretend they did not, since it won’t matter anyway. That’s part of the cruelty.
For those who claim it is just the marketplace in action, and a deal is a deal, check this out:
As it was discussed earlier, in 50% to 60% of cases the surrogate mothers and their husbands were illiterate or with primary education which leaves no chances for them to understand the medical jargons or complicated procedures that might affect the health and well being of the surrogate mother. The clinics often avoid signing such written agreements/contracts, which can hold them accountable in future. Moreover, the clinics even did not leave a copy of the agreement with the surrogate mother, who is a signing party in the agreement, to have any evidence either of her pregnancy or the surrogacy arrangement.
The women are depersonalized:
The surrogacy arrangement contract rarely addresses issues related primarily to the well being and health of the surrogate mother. It is only the health issues related to the fetus when the health of the surrogate mother becomes a prerogative.
Gestational serfdom. That’s what it is.
In our age, the living bodies and functions of human beings are becoming commoditized for the use and benefit of the rich and connected. Indian surrogacy serfs are just one example.