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Exclusive: Rise in number of couples seeking 'wombs for hire' abroad

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Increase in British couples turning to poor foreign surrogate mothers to have their babies 

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Wealthy British couples who cannot have children are increasingly seeking "wombs for hire" from women overseas, according to figures obtained by The Independent.

The number of couples formally registering children born to foreign surrogates has nearly trebled in five years, raising concerns that poor women in developing countries are being exploited by rich Westerners.

"Parental orders" granted following surrogacy – to transfer the child from the surrogate mother to the commissioning parents – have risen from 47 in 2007 to 133 in 2011.

While the figures are still relatively small, experts say they understate the true scale of the trade which is driven by agencies operating in countries such as India, drawn by a lack of red tape and the absence of regulation.

There are parallels with the trade in inter-country adoption 20 years ago, when hundreds of children from impoverished families in eastern Europe and the developing world were "sold" to wealthy foreigners, with few checks on their suitability, they claim.

Commercial surrogacy is permitted in the US and in many other countries including India, where it was legalised in 2002.

But it is banned in Britain and only expenses may be paid – making it difficult for UK couples where neither partner is able to bear children to find women prepared to volunteer for the role.

In 2010 the law was changed to allow gay and lesbian couples and unmarried heterosexual couples to use surrogates for the first time, boosting demand further.

Events such as the Alternative Families Show, which acts as a showcase for surrogacy agencies overseas, regularly draw large crowds. The impact can be seen in the increasing numbers of wealthy British couples who are going abroad where there are fewer restrictions and a surrogate womb can be rented from £10,000 to £20,000. Some do so after trying and failing to have a baby by in-vitro fertilisation, directed by doctors who have been treating them.

"We have clinicians in this country who have links with overseas clinics. That was stopped with international adoption years ago. I don't think the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has been strong enough on this," said Marilyn Crawshaw, senior lecturer in the University of York's department of social policy, who published the figures on parental orders in the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law.

"There is concern about child trafficking. The World Health Organisation held a meeting on this. One report described a surrogacy ring in Thailand in 2011 in which 13 Vietnamese women, seven of them pregnant, had been trafficked for the purpose of acting as surrogates. Other reports have highlighted concerns about the exploitation of Indian surrogates."

Ms Crawshaw said evidence suggested that the number of children born in India to commissioning parents from the UK was "well in excess" of the cases known to official sources, making monitoring very difficult.

"US social workers have warned that the decline in inter-country adoption may be leading to its replacement by global surrogacy as the preferred route for those wanting to build their family with a 'healthy' infant but with no less concerns among professionals as to associated ethical dilemmas and human rights concerns," she said.

Natalie Gamble, a lawyer specialising in surrogacy cases, added: "We have got this phenomenon where people can go overseas and do deals with commercial agencies and then come back and ask for a parental order.

"The law of our land says you cannot buy and sell babies. But the judges end up granting the parental order, with just a rap on the knuckles for the parents, on the grounds that the welfare of the child is paramount.

"When people went overseas to adopt, safeguards were put in place to stop the buying and selling of children. Are we going to have the same problems again with overseas surrogacy?"

Case study: 'It was awkward when the mother had to hand over our twins'

We both found it very hard to keep it together. It was a very emotional time. We could never have imagined it a couple of years ago."

Stephen Hill and his partner Johnathon Busher first held their twin girls in their arms less than 12 hours after their birth in a Delhi hospital last April.

The gay couple, from the West Midlands, had been together for 18 years when they decided they wanted a family.

In 2011, they travelled to India and agreed a contract with a clinic in Delhi where Mr Hill's sperm was used to fertilise an egg from a donor they had selected, and the resulting embryo was implanted in a surrogate mother.

When the twins were born there was an "awkward moment" before the surrogate mother agreed to hand them over, as her husband had been telling medical staff the infants were his own.

"She was reminded that it was a deal and she was fine. She was a little bit too attached and she needed to be reminded," Mr Busher said. "We produced the contract and we were able to take them out of the hospital. We were so happy our feet didn't touch the ground."

source

by on Dec. 29, 2012 at 9:00 AM
Replies (61-64):
12hellokitty
by Ruby Member on Dec. 31, 2012 at 5:54 PM

 

Well using their womb as a way to make money is just another option, right? 

Quoting mehamil1:

Could you retract the claws a bit? 

As a socialist (that makes me the most liberal on the political spectrum) and as a mother, I find this to be a horrible form of exploitation that could very well blow up in a very bad way if the Indian government doesn't pass some strict laws regulating this practice. And enforce them.

If I had a lot of money but could not have children, I'd adopt. I think what these people are doing is bullshit when there are countless children out there who don't have a single person in this world to love them and take care of them. I understand that people want a biological child, but at what cost? At the cost of these women's lives? Their bodies? Their families? Poor women's bodies are being commercialized and it's despicable. 

Also, the push for Birth control in poor countries is what saves women's lives and the lives of their children. Those who have fewer children who are spaced at least two years apart saves lives. There is an astronomical amount of benefits to getting birth control to women in poor countries. It gives them options that we here in the west take for granted. 

You tend to make blanket statements against liberals on a consistent basis and so little of it is accurate. I feel like you are a good person, but these statements you make...they are just wrong too much of the time. 

Quoting 12hellokitty:

Interesting how rich white liberals want to push birth control on women in poor countries like India find it perfectly moral to exploit these same poor women into giving birth for money.  

 


mehamil1
by Platinum Member on Dec. 31, 2012 at 6:56 PM

When the other option is living on the street or/and starving, it's not much of an option. I understand why these women are doing this and I can't blame them. I might do the same if I was in their situation. What makes me mad is that this kind of poverty does not need to exist and they are being exploited. 

Quoting 12hellokitty:

Well using their womb as a way to make money is just another option, right? 

Quoting mehamil1:

Could you retract the claws a bit? 

As a socialist (that makes me the most liberal on the political spectrum) and as a mother, I find this to be a horrible form of exploitation that could very well blow up in a very bad way if the Indian government doesn't pass some strict laws regulating this practice. And enforce them.

If I had a lot of money but could not have children, I'd adopt. I think what these people are doing is bullshit when there are countless children out there who don't have a single person in this world to love them and take care of them. I understand that people want a biological child, but at what cost? At the cost of these women's lives? Their bodies? Their families? Poor women's bodies are being commercialized and it's despicable. 

Also, the push for Birth control in poor countries is what saves women's lives and the lives of their children. Those who have fewer children who are spaced at least two years apart saves lives. There is an astronomical amount of benefits to getting birth control to women in poor countries. It gives them options that we here in the west take for granted. 

You tend to make blanket statements against liberals on a consistent basis and so little of it is accurate. I feel like you are a good person, but these statements you make...they are just wrong too much of the time. 

Quoting 12hellokitty:

Interesting how rich white liberals want to push birth control on women in poor countries like India find it perfectly moral to exploit these same poor women into giving birth for money. 


GoddessNDaRuff
by Silver Member on Dec. 31, 2012 at 7:35 PM

It really stuck with me after I watched it. We feel the same way.

Quoting jaxTheMomm:

Yep, same one but you remember it better.  That doctor definitely took great care of the mothers.

I understand that for some people this may be the best way to have a child.  For those surrogates, the only way they will ever be able to lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

But yes, something just didn't sit right with me.  Maybe those surrogates would disagree and tell me to shut up, but it did seem as if their poverty puts them in the position of their wombs being bought and sold like a commodity.

Quoting GoddessNDaRuff:


Quoting jaxTheMomm:

I saw a documentary about this a year or so ago.  It focused on one doctor's facility in India.  She said the women must have had at least one previous successful pregnancy, the support of their husbands, and they must live there at the facility throughout the pregnancy.  Imagine roomfulls of cots and bordom.  She doesn't allow the women to labor and deliver - when the due date arrives, she sedates them and performs a c-section.

One of the women followed throughout her pregnancy stated she knew the baby she was carrying wasn't hers, yet loved it and bonded, and was sad at the thought of never seeing this child.

When her date arrived, during the c-section, the camera focused on her face.  Half conscious, moaning, body moving back and forth as the doctor performed the surgery.  Nobody holding her hand or encouraging her.

Then it's done.  The infant is immediately taken to a different wing of the hospital to be handed over as soon as deemed healthy.

The mom heals then goes home.  This young woman just looked so sad and a bit traumatized.  A few months later, she and her husband were interviewed in the home they'd built with the money she'd earned, money they could have never gotten otherwise.  It sort of looked like a lower income western style tract house placed in the middle of a dump.  The husband said that maybe "they" would do it again soon so they'd have all the funds they needed to put their son into private school.

The woman just stared at the floor.

There was something disturbing about the whole process. My first thought was, anybody with the cash could do this. 


I saw this same documentary. It didn't sit right with me.



GoddessNDaRuff
by Silver Member on Dec. 31, 2012 at 7:37 PM

Apparently some countries women are already being trafficked for the specific purpose of acting as surrogates because the demand for the service is rising.

Quoting jaxTheMomm:

Ah, I see.  I don't know that anyone is exactly judging these women as much as the entire scenario.

It reeks of taking advantage of a woman's poverty in exchange for her body for 9 months.  But as I said, those women might tell us to STFU as it's the only way they can get their families out of poverty.

The potential dangers I see are trafficking, buying and selling of babies, forcing women, etc.  Will every one of these surrogates be as safe and cared for as the women in the documentary I saw were?  That kind of thing.

Quoting Claire-Huxtable:

It has everything to do with this.

People are judging these women hiring them and judging those renting out their wombs because they find it icky or morally wrong to use their bodies like this.

Quoting jaxTheMomm:

These women do have control of their bodies, at least in the documentary I saw.  Nothing to do with this.

Quoting Claire-Huxtable:

What happened to women being in control of their bodies?  Why judge this?





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