Surrogacy has been a topic for debate from the time it was medically possible up to now in the modern times. Many institutions and groups had voiced out their opinions and the arguments went on and on. However, for us to clearly understand the case at hand, we must first see the topic of surrogacy from both sides and from the eyes of three different people.
In this paper, we examined three critics of surrogacy. First, we look at the article by Katherine B. Lieber (1992) entitled ‘Selling the Womb: Can the Feminist Critique of Surrogacy Be Answered?’ wherein she discussed the feminist point of view and its relationship with the legal considerations regarding surrogacy. The first part of the article talked about the technology involved in surrogacy. This included the two basic ways of non-coital conception – artificial insemination (AI) and In vitro fertilization (IVF). In relation to surrogacy Lieber described AI as the process wherein the sperm is injected into the vagina of a fertile woman. If fertilization occurs, the woman would carry the child until birth. IVF on the other hand involves what is called as ‘test-tube babies’. Basically, the egg cell is removed from the female body and is mixed with the male’s sperm in a laboratory dish. Once fertilization occurs, the fertilized egg is inserted through the woman’s vagina and into her womb.
The second part of Lieber’s paper talked about the legal ramification of surrogacy. The article at this point cited several legal cases that involved the surrogate mother and the biological parent or parents. For example, the case of Mary Beth Whitehead who contested her rights over the child she became surrogate mother too. The court ended up declaring the contract between Ms. Whitehead and William Stern, the biological father, null and void. Nonetheless, in virtue of Mr. Stern being married to his wife Besty Stern and in the basis that both were financially stable, the custody of the child went to the Sterns. Ms. Whitehead however was allowed visitation rights.
The premise of Lieber’s argument is that laws regarding surrogacy is often tricky and rarely protects the rights of the surrogate mother over the legal parents. Her argument is valid in the time-frame in which the paper was published precisely because of the many cases she presented in her paper referring to legal cases of surrogacy wherein in almost all of them, the bias of the custody of the child is not towards the surrogate mother. On the other hand, the context of the law she cited is outdated due to the paper being written way back in 1992. From that point of time to the current year, many laws have been refined or changed.
The second article this paper examined is written by Josienita Borlongan. Borlongon (2014) defined in her article five major concerns over surrogacy. These concerns are: Deciding on Surrogacy, Choosing a Surrogate Mother, Procedure, Cost, and Time Frame. In the first concern, Borlongan was adamant in saying that the decision in itself of whether or not to go for surrogacy may take a toll on the couple. This argument is valid especially if the couple is within a community wherein surrogacy is not socially accepted. For example, many religious institutions frown upon surrogacy. The second concern deals with the fact that it is hard to find a surrogate mother that they can trust. This argument is again valid because there are a lot of true stories wherein the surrogate mother gets attached to the baby and refuses to let go. Evidences to this are the cases outlined in Lieber’s (1992) article. The third concern merely outlines the medical choices a couple has regarding surrogacy and does not provide much argument so we will move on to the next concern which is cost. Borlongan (2014) argues that surrogacy can be very expensive for the involved couple and her argument was further validated by the facts she provided regarding the cost such as the fact that by 2009, the cost of surrogacy ranged from $25,000 to $100,000. The last concern Borlongan had involved the fact that the process of surrogacy could take several years which in itself is a valid argument if one will consider all the legalities as well as medical concerns.
The third article is from the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics which discusses the moral implications of surrogacy (Allis 1997). The first argument raised was that surrogacy was only for the rich since as already mentioned by Borlongon (2014), surrogacy is expensive. Allis (1997) thus questioned whether it was moral to identify who deserves to have a child by the amount of money the person has. His argument is valid because indeed, with surrogacy becoming a commercial trade, a lot of people who are financially stable but is not overly rich cannot obtain a child to surrogacy even if they would have been better parents than those who can afford to pay for surrogacy.
Another argument raised by Allis (1997) is that surrogate mothers are used as mere commodities and not the human that they are. The argument is validated by the additional statement by the author that during the process of surrogacy, the surrogate is seen only as a “vehicle for breeding babies” (Aliis 1997) therefore dehumanizing the woman.
The third argument in Allis’ paper is that surrogacy changes and redefines motherhood. Allis (1997) mentioned that because of surrogacy the natural order of the connection between childbearing and childrearing is disrupted which also paves the way for the question of morally, who is the mother of the child?
Lieber, K.B. (1992). Selling the Womb: Can the Feminist Critique of Surrogacy Be Answered?
Indiana Law Journal, 68(1), 204-232.
Borlongan, J. (2014). 5 Pros and Cons for Surrogacy. Retrieved from
Allis, T. (1997). The Moral Implications of Motherhood by Hire. Indian Journal of Medical
Ethics, 5(1), 21-22.