Here is a long but interesting article about paid surrogates in India, most of whose “clients” are Americans. There are so many thorny issues here. Is it possible that these women aren’t exploited, when they’re offered (by their standards) massive amounts of money? If we accept surrogacy for free, out of charity or love, is it wrong to pay for it? Are these western parents so desperate for a biological child somehow selfish for going this route instead of adopting one of the many children in the world who need loving parents? I don’t know the answer to any of these, but the whole operation seems very murky, and that’s without even addressing the “surplus” embryos that are inevitably created with IVF.
I can’t bring myself to condemn people who would do anything to have a child of their own, which for many people means one that shares their DNA. But this is an area in which some moral clarity, and consensus on what is and is not acceptable, would be very helpful.
Andrea adds: Condemnation is never particularly helpful, no. But that is besides the point. If something is sketchy, murky or just plain wrong–we ought to call a spade a spade and say so. That might sound a lot like “condemnation” in moments. What is worse–a whiff of condemnation or in the case described above, making people into monetary transactions? I’m a sympathetic sort, I like to think–in particular to feeling like you really want kids. But there comes a point when our feelings really are besides the point–and wanting a child even very badly is, after all, just that. A feeling. (Does anyone ever feel (hardy har har) like our culture is grounded on nothing more than the latest Oprah show?)