Made in India: The Surrogate’s Perspective

Episode: 
56

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.[1] Military  wives, in particular, are turning  to surrogacy as a way to make ends meet while their husbands  are deployed.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.

 


[1] 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).

[2] 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).

[3] 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).

[4] Ibid.

 

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