by Bekah Ferguson
Recently, I saw a documentary about Indian women who were sharing a group house of sorts, and making a living as surrogate mothers for Americans. One of the women interviewed said she made, I believe, around $7,000 US per pregnancy. Contrast this to American surrogates who purportedly make between $15,000 to $35,000 per pregnancy. Once again, we're outsourcing to India. But that aside, the growing trend of surrogacy raises an interesting point.
A few days ago, LifeNews.com reported on a British woman named Octavia who was openly referring to the Indian surrogate she hired as a "receptacle." She said, in part, "Our baby has no biological connection to the surrogate. Her womb is just the receptacle in which it is being carried. Perhaps it sounds cold and rather clinical, but this is a business transaction."
For those who are uncertain how surrogacy works, let me give a quick crash course. The process used is called invitro-fertilization (IVF). The infertile couple brings their egg/s and sperm to a fertility clinic and brand new human beings (i.e. embryos) are created in petri dishes through the successful conjoining of sperm and egg. Genetically, the embryo is distinct from her mother and father and has her own unique set of DNA. Nevertheless, he/she is unquestionably the offspring of her biological parents (the egg and sperm donors). These living embryos are then inserted into the woman who supplied the egg/s, in the hopes that some or one of them will implant in her womb (uterus). If, however, the biological mother is unable to carry a pregnancy to term, she can hire a surrogate to carry the baby for her instead, using the IVF procedure. She is essentially renting a womb.
Octavia went on to say: "Her [the surrogate's] function is to sustain the foetus we have created. Her blood is pumping around its body and she is feeding it through her placenta, but she is just a vessel. The baby she gives birth to on our behalf will carry none of her genes and bear no physical resemblance to her."
This is true but for one caveat. The placenta actually belongs to the fetus and was made by the fetus; it is not the surrogate's placenta. The rest is true: An Indian woman will give birth to a Caucasian infant who is biologically the offspring of Octavia and her partner, even though the baby was not birthed from Octavia's own womb. The exact inverse can be done as well. A Caucasian woman can give birth to an Indian infant without a single genetic tie. An Asian woman can carry an African, and vice versa, and so on and so forth. The medical technology behind IVF makes this possible. Now, aside from the fact that Octavia has dehumanized her surrogate and speaks of her as though she were nothing more than an incubator, an important pro-life observation is being made here, one which pro-choicers are going to have to contend with now that surrogacy is a growing trend....
Surrogacy proves that the fetus has her very own body, from the absolute beginning, when she is still a very tiny embryo who does not yet *look* like a baby but is genetically a complete human being. And if the fetus has her own body, then the bodily autonomy of the baby must be addressed by the courts. It is the science and technology of IVF which has brought us face to face with this truth, and it can no longer be ignored.
(c) 2012 - Bekah Ferguson
Licensed under Creative Commons.