This weekend an article in The Guardian profiled the rising number of British couples that utilize international surrogacy to have a child. The headline reads: “Childless UK couples forced abroad to find surrogates.”

Did you catch that? Forced! The subtitle of the article notes, “Lack of clarity in UK laws causes anguish for prospective parents.” Anguish!

By the sound of it, you might think that couples who pursue surrogacy are experiencing the next great human rights tragedy of our time, being forced to endure such anguish and turmoil.

The article goes on to highlight the fact that in the past three years over 1,000 British couples or individuals have looked abroad for surrogacy, making it the highest of any country in Europe. To hear some of these individuals and couples recount their experiences, you might think that their experience is on par with the plight of refugees seeking to resettle in a new land!

I say this in jest, of course, but the tone of this article—and so many like it in major media outlets—paint a picture of intended parents who are attempting to utilize surrogacy as victims who are in need of much sympathy and pity. This article ignores the fact that surrogacy is primarily an enterprise that only the elite can participate in, and therefore relies on an exploitation of lower classes of people. As we’ve said before, it’s the poor who are forced to sell their eggs and rent their wombs, and the rich that can afford to buy.

Just once it would be nice to see an article giving adequate attention to the women who entered into the practice and have come to regret their decisions. It would be nice to give their stories a megaphone so that readers could hear their stories of being forced into the practice and the anguish they felt. Similarly, it would be nice to hear more about the children conceived through the practice who grow up to feel as if they were victims of trafficking. That’s the real story—and when it’s finally told for all of the world to see, maybe then people will realize that a modern day human rights violation is actually happening before our very eyes.

Image by clearlyambiguous via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)




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Christopher White, Ramsey Institute Project Director