Outsourcing Birth

ChelseaReproductive Technology1 Comment


This clip, from the documentary Google Baby, is as heart-wrenching to watch as it is horrifying. In India poor women are “recruited” to become surrogates for childless middle-class western couples. This kind of language should leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth:

A key figure in the narrative is Dr. Nayna Patel, who started the Gujarat clinic that recruits surrogate mothers, houses them for the duration of their pregnancies, then removes the babies by Caesarean section and hands the infants over to paying clients. Patel is blunt about the risks (including fatality), yet persuasive in describing the financial benefits for the destitute surrogates. Like any modern business, her services are advertised on the Internet with a video.

Paying clients? Business? These are not words that should ever be associated with the creation of human life. More from the UK Daily Mail:

For £3,000, they (couples) can rent a womb for nine months, go home, then when the woman gives birth return to take the child away.

The Akanksha clinic, run by infertility expert Dr Nayna Patel, is pioneering the outsourcing of pregnancy.

And it is at the forefront of a booming trade in so-called reproductive tourism in India, where there is a more relaxed attitude to paying women for pregnancy, a practice banned in many other countries.

By some estimates, Indian surrogacy is already a £250million-a-year business, and it’s growing rapidly.

Virtually every day, Dr Patel says, middle-class Western couples arrive at the clinic, hoping that an impoverished local woman will carry their child.

She has more than 50 foreign couples ? from Britain, America, Europe, the Middle East and even Africa ? and 45 surrogate mothers on her books.

For the surrogate, the money they earn for the service ? more than ten years’ salary for rural Indians ? will transform their lives, allowing them to buy a house for the first time or provide an education for their own children.

Yet in order to make such money, many have to lie to their families and friends, telling them they are studying or working away from home.

They hide away in order to avoid the potential shame the practice would bring on them: surrogacy is not understood in many parts of India and is seen as “dirty”.

Setting aside for a second the commoditization of children and total disregard for the precious gift of life; this is a gross objectification of women and borderline prostitution, if not explicitly so. A woman’s womb is a sacred, life-giving vessel, not a baby factory.

No doubt infertility is a heartbreaking thing for any couple to deal with. But, having children is not a right. Human beings have the privilege of being able to co-create with God through the marital embrace, but they themselves are not the masters of life.

H/T Mary Meets Dolly

One Comment on “Outsourcing Birth”

  1. “Reproductive tourism?” Yes, it does sound a lot like prostitution.

    Next thing you know, fertile couples will be outsourcing their pregnancies, too.

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