An increasing number of well off Western couples are renting wombs of poor women in India to gestate their children. From the story:
One leading obstetrician at a Mumbai hospital says she delivers on average one baby to a British couple every 48 hours. One London couple who have taken advantage of India’s “baby factories” told the Standard of their joy at having twins. Louis and Freya are the genetic offspring of Chris and Susan Morrison but were
It is very disturbing to see well off Westerners with such a sense of entitlement that they think it is perfectly fine to use poor women as so many brood mares. And what about the well being of the birth mothers? What psychic cost do they pay to gestate children and then have them taken away, never to be seen again—perhaps never to be ever known about by the children they bore? And what if something went wrong and the surrogate lost her health, her fecundity, or her life? Or what if the baby was born with a disability and the parents “change their minds?” There is a lot more involved here than the joy of the parents.
Back to the story:
The case will inevitably raise questions over the relative ease with which childless couples can go to India to have surrogate babies and could also put pressure on British authorities to relax laws which outlaw commercial surrogacy. Today’s case also raises the prospect of wealthy women, who do not wish to go through the inconvenience or pain of childbirth, travelling to India to have their eggs implanted in the wombs of Indian women.
The “outsourcing of ethics” (to borrow Bill Hurlbut’s evocative term) we increasingly see employed across a wide swath of bioethical fronts should become the subjects of legislative correctives. We properly bar unethical activities at home, but what good is that when we wink at the well off going overseas to get whatever they want—babies (gestated and otherwise, hello, Madonna), eggs, organs, subjects for human research, sex, etc.—as if the people being exploited don’t matter as much as our own countrymen and women.
If it was wrong to exploit poor countries for their natural resources during the days of imperialism, why isn’t it even more wrong to exploit poor people today for their body parts and functions? And is it any coincidence that the UK, which is leading the world in promoting Brave New World attitudes and technologies, is leading the world in this new form of “colonialism?”