Sample Research Paper on Surrogacy: Womb Outsourcing

Surrogacy is a practice of reproduction in which a woman carries in her womb a baby for another person or a couple that the woman is not part of (Cook et al. 124). The surrogate baby is taken from the bearer mother upon birth, meaning that she has no right to both the baby’s parenthood and custody. Surrogacy is achieved by at least three avenues: by implanting an embryo into the surrogate mother’s womb; by fertilizing the surrogate mother’s egg using a donor sperm; or using the commissioning male’s sperm to fertilize the surrogate mother’s egg. Whichever avenue is pursued to accomplish it, the question is whether the practice is justified morally, legally, medically or other means. This research will argue in favor of its discontinuation.

Surrogacy operates on a business model.  The infertility clinics that facilitate the processes take their cuts for the services they offer. The portion of money paid by the commissioning parents that goes to the surrogate mother is determined by the officials at the infertility clinic (Merino 35). Furthermore, a commodity is made of the baby. The baby is made in the womb of the surrogate mother and produced by her. The ownership of the baby is then transferred to the commissioning parents in exchange for money. As such, there is very little regard for human dignity if any at all.

Surrogacy can be argued as a practice that exploits economically desperate women. Infertility clinics see the wombs of these women as a profit-making resource. This can be seen in the variation of the cost of surrogacy in different regions of the world. In India for example, the entire process of surrogacy can cost under $20,000, which is significantly less compared to the $30,000 to $70,000 range it costs in such developed countries as the United States and Canada (Chambers170).  According to a documentary by Google, The Google Baby, surrogacy could cost as little as $6,000 in India, while the cost in the United States is in the region of $100,000 (“Google Baby” par. 1). Though it pays more in developing countries, the figures are still lower than the legal minimum wage for those countries. Forbes reported that a woman working as a surrogate mother in the United States makes $3 hourly (Eaves par. 6). People from developed world flood into the third world for the less costly surrogacy services made available by fertility clinics. The clinics get their cut; the economically desperate surrogate mothers earn less.

Women who have no any other option than to go into surrogacy encounter psychological trauma and pain during pregnancy. For example, in most of Indian families, a male baby is preferred to a female baby. If the unborn baby is discovered to be female, it is common for the commissioning parents to have the fetus aborted (Chambers 262). In such situations, the surrogate mother’s consent is never sought. The request is usually executed in spite of the surrogate mother’s willingness to bear and take care of the baby girl as her own, as it happens sometimes. Most of these women – who also happen to be uneducated and from rural areas – are usually emotionally attached to their unborn babies. The termination of pregnancy can affect them psychologically. Furthermore, besides the physical pain that comes with it, the abortion can cause anatomical complications in their reproductive systems, potentially causing permanent infertility. Other medical complications can also be experienced by the aborting surrogate mother.

However, if the surrogate mother is fortunately carrying a male baby, or if the baby is a girl and the commissioning parents want her, she may still encounter problems and challenges relating to the baby. In addition to the male and female issue is that of the medical condition of the baby, for example disability or Down syndrome. In 2013, Moore-Bridger and Gidley’s report highlighted the plight of a Thai surrogate woman, in which an Australian commissioning couple rejected one of the twins she gave birth to because the baby boy had Down syndrome (par. 1). The Australian’s took with them to Australia the healthy sister of the boy. In spite of the difficult economic situation that drove her into surrogacy, the Thai woman offered to take care of the boy and bring her up as her own. The woman not only has to go through an extra struggle of raising another baby, but she also has to take care of the medical costs, without the support of the infertility clinics.

A surrogate mother’s ordeal does not end with the guarantee of the commissioning parents to take the baby, or when it actually happens. The surrogate mother is usually vulnerable to suffering emotionally and psychologically from the separation of the baby from her. The suffering occurs whether or not the mother is genetically linked to the baby. According to Jadva et al., the bonds between surrogate mothers and their babies are not likely to be stronger in cases where there is a genetic link between the two than when there is not such link (2203). A psychological and emotional attachment of the mother to the baby is created by the baby’s development in the surrogate mother’s womb, and the labor pains experienced by the surrogate mother during the baby’s birth (Leon 13). In fact, the ordeal does not start at the point of separation. Rather, psychological problems start being experienced during the pregnancy period (Jadva 2203).

The suffering linked to the separation is not exclusive to the mother.  The baby being separated goes through the same for a given period during and after the separation. It has been shown by studies carried out that the unborn baby has some level of consciousness of the environment around the womb carrying the baby. The baby inside the womb is able to learn music, language melodies, flavors and the voice of its surrogate mother (Mampe et al. n.p). A sudden separation rather than a gradual transition to allow the baby to adapt to the changes can cause the baby psychological suffering. The psychological suffering can become long-term in cases where the parenting of the baby is not effective enough, or does not pay attention to it.

Lastly, issues can arise at to the custody and even parenthood of the baby born of a surrogate mother. The problem can arise not just immediately after the baby’s birth, but also long after when the baby has grown up. The number of adults involved in the conception of the baby, the baby’s development in the surrogate mother’s womb, and the rightful ownership of the baby, can be as many as six. The people include: the commissioning parent(s), the surrogate mother, and egg donor, a sperm donor, and the surrogate mother’s husband. Conflict as to the custody of the baby or child among some or all of the involved can arise. This can escalate into a fight of legal or any other nature. Furthermore, when the child grows up and discovers that he or she was born as a surrogate baby, he or she would want to be more informed of her parenthood – the birth parents, the genetic parents and so on. It can be a difficult psychological and emotional process and time for him or her, especially when the parents under whose custody he or she is are not willing to help with the search.

Having looked at the issues associated with it, surrogacy is not a practice that should have a place in the modern world. As a business model, surrogacy makes money out of people’s plight. It exploits the economic situation of women, treats babies as commodities, and pays the surrogate mothers very little. Furthermore, these surrogate mothers encounter a lot of problems during pregnancy and after giving birth. Some of the problems are: forced abortion, rejection of babies with medical conditions by the commissioning parents, and the suffering caused by separation not just to the surrogate mother but to the baby as well. As a result, both the baby and the mother go through emotional and psychological suffering. The child’s custody may be fought over. The child may also want to know everybody involved when they grow up. In light of the highlighted reasons, surrogacy should be abandoned.

Works Cited

Chambers, Deborah. A sociology of family life: Change and diversity in intimate relations.

Polity, 2012.

Cook, Rachel, Shelley D. Sclater, and Felicity Kaganas. Surrogate Motherhood: International

 Perspectives. Oxford: Hart, 2003. Print

Eaves, Elizabeth. Want To Work For $3 An Hour? Forbes, 24 July 2009. Web. 15 November

“’Google Baby’ Follows Birth Outsourced To India.” NPR Hourly Newscast, 15 June 2010.

Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Jadva, Vasanti, et al. “Surrogacy: the experiences of surrogate mothers.”Human

Reproduction 18.10 (2003): 2196-2204.

Leon, I. “Psychology of reproduction: Pregnancy, parenthood, and parental ties.” Global Library

 of Women’s Medicine (2008).

Mampe, Birgit, et al. “Newborns’ cry melody is shaped by their native language.” Current

 biology 19.23 (2009): 1994-1997.

Merino, Faith. Adoption and Surrogate Pregnancy. New York: Facts On File, 2010. Print.

Moore-Bridger, B. and Gidley, I. Australian Couple Reject Down’s Baby.  Standard UK, 4

August 2014. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.