02 December, 2008

Moms for Hire

I didn't realize that surrogate mothers were so controversial. Apparently conservatives think it's somehow unnatural to have another woman bear your child. And liberals think that it's coercive to pay or get paid for it:

Lawyers and surrogacy advocates will tell you that they don’t accept poor women as surrogates for a number of reasons. Shirley Zager told me that the arrangement might feel coercive for someone living in real poverty.
So it's perfectly fine for an upper- or middle-class woman to accept money for the use of her womb, but if the woman is below the poverty line it's coercive? You know how it can be hard for an impoverished person to pass up an opportunity to make money! Gosh, what would we do if there was a relatively easy way for poor women to make $25,000 a pop? Now that I think about it, we should probably ban the poor from working too. After all, they don't really have any other options: if they don't get a job they'll starve. People just shouldn't be allowed to freely exchange their labor for money unless it's something they really care about!


Cassady said...

While I largely agree with your assessment of the situation, I think there are some factors that need to be taken into account.

If a woman (say a particularly wealthy woman) is trying to find a surrogate mother for a child, but cannot, because she is a singularly awful human being, offering a poor woman that amount to do so would indeed seem coercive.

That's a pretty specific, and perhaps outlandish situation, but you see my point?

There is a definite element of coercion in mind--and while I'm agreeing that people should be able to work as they please, this job is a bit more involved than bagging groceries.

The surrogate mother would need to provide proper pre-natal care and simply take care of herself, something that most poor people struggle with. She may have a myriad of pre-existing conditions which commonly afflict poorer people. She may be tempted to abscond with what money she has recieved, abort the child, and try to sell her "services" to another woman.

When looked at in a certain way, the process becomes very much like prostitution.

Cassady said...


I think it's probable that the requesting woman would provide pre-natal care and exercise her vested interest in the surrogate's well-being, but I think my larger point is still valid.

It can be used as access to healthcare and food and shelter on a temporary basis, and abused as such.

spencer said...

I agree that bad nutrition, pre-existing diseases, etc. are all correlated with poverty. But assuming those things can be screened for or eliminated, I don't see the problem. Contracts could be structured so as to guarantee the child would be brought to term.

And "access to healthcare and food and shelter on a temporary basis" doesn't seem like something that can be abused.