If you check clothing labels, "made in India" might make you wonder if the workers were treated fairly. There's another situation where "made in India" should make us stop and wonder, and that's the issue of gestational surrogates. These are woman who carry a baby to term, but for someone else. A recent documentary, Made in India, narrates the story of an American couple who hire a married Indian woman to carry their twins. The couple is tearfully grateful when the twins are born, after an emergency C-section. But what about the surrogate's perspective?
Some surrogates are altruistic. They don't get paid, and usually go through pregnancy for a relative, like the sister who carried a baby for her brother and his male partner. Or the grandmother who carried her triplet granddaughters. Others just enjoy being pregnant, like the serial surrogate who has given birth to twelve babies.
The reality is that most women become surrogates for financial reasons, like the woman in India. In India, about $1,000 of the $25,000 fee goes to the surrogate. Surrogates in the US are typically paid an average of $20,000 dollars or more per pregnancy. Women in the US have become surrogates for couples from overseas, giving the foreign couple the added bonus of a child who is also a US citizen. Military wives, in particular, are turning to surrogacy as a way to make ends meet while their husbands are deployed. Even when surrogacy is unpaid, brokers encourage couples to take the surrogate and their family members out to dinner, give them gifts, or offer a paid vacation to thank them for their generosity.
The surrogate may experience long-term risks, in addition to the general risks of pregnancy. They must take medications and undergo repeated injections of hormones to sync their reproductive cycles with the egg donor and prepare for the embryo transfer. Many women experience immediate and long term adverse side effects from these medications.
Surrogates who become pregnant with twins or triplets are at an increased risk of pregnancy complications including preeclampsia, miscarriage, and the risks of a C-section. These IVF and pregnancy complications may jeopardize the surrogate's own fertility. After the birth, many surrogates report a sense of loss or depression after giving up the infant they have spent the past nine months caring for. That doesn't include the challenge of explaining the pregnancy to her own children, as most surrogacy contracts require that the woman already have given birth successfully.
Surrogacy is not just another option to help a couple have a child of their own. It's also an intentional arrangement that can subject one of the parties to exploitation, health risks, and psychological distress. It uses the body of another person to resolve a problem that may not have a moral solution. Surrogacy is an immoral way to raise money or get out of debt. Because the 21st century offers us radically new technological options, we desperately need ancient biblical wisdom to help us come to terms with the limitaitons and frailties of the lives that God has given us. Even if we have the best of noble intentions, Christians should not go down this path.
The "made in India" label is for clothing, not children.
 Illinois is one state that permits this. Nara Schoenberg, "Born in the USA," Chicago Tribune April 13, 2011, http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-04-13/health/ct-news-surrogate-mom-20110413_1_surrogacy-center-for-surrogate-parenting-international-parents (accessed April 19, 2011).
 Lorraine Ali, "The Curious Lives of Surrogates," Newsweek March 29, 2008, http://www.newsweek.com/2008/03/29/the-curious-lives-of-surrogates.html (accessed June 6, 2011).
 This is particularly true of the drug Lupron which is used off-label by fertility clinics as part of the syncing process Susan K. Flinn, "Lupron® – What Does It Do To Women's Health?," National Women's Health Network September/October 2008, http://nwhn.org/lupron%C2%AE-%E2%80%93-what-does-it-do-women%E2%80%99s-health (accessed June 6, 2011).