Moral quandaries in the age of surrogate pregnancy

The Age (Australia) March 4, 2011
Over the past year, surrogacy has moved from the fringe of reproductive techniques towards the mainstream. Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker and Nicole Kidman lead a long list of people, celebrity and otherwise, who have used surrogacy to fulfil their wish for a child. Reporting has focused on best-case outcomes: happy couples, happy infants, happy surrogates. Few commentators have explored the moral ambiguities, most of which apply to commercial surrogacy, where a surrogate mother is paid (usually on delivery of the infant to the new parents) to bring a child to birth. Views on the moral dimensions of commercial surrogacy are important because regulation is still in an early phase. I want to highlight two issues of concern. First, commercial surrogacy can be exploitative because the contracting parties are not always free and equal. Second, by allowing commercial surrogacy, we step closer to commodifying pregnancy, motherhood and babies, leading to a potential change in how we perceive and treat the people involved.