Check out this article discussing Chinese couples who travel to the USA for surrogacy. This is an interesting addition to the increasingly complex network of transnational commercial surrogacy routes. In this case, the legal status of commercial surrogacy in the USA and trust in a well established system are important factors drawing IPs from China to the US, and US citizenship for children born via a surrogate mother in the US is an added bonus. It is interesting that the IPs highlighted in this article have also become entrepreneurs of this novel connection between China and the USA. Jiang, like other IPs through transnational surrogacy, acts a facilitator between surrogacy agencies in one country, in this case the US and IPs in his home country, in this case China:
He now consults with eight surrogacy agencies, connecting them with Chinese clients, the vast majority of whom suffer from infertility, Jiang says. Others clients have included gay men and heterosexual couples barred from having a second child in China.
Transnational commercial surrogacy seems to be a new space for entrepreneurship: new forms of facilitation, agencies, consultants, ‘match making’…. in all of this surrogate mothers are central, yet make the least profit (or even find themselves out of pocket in domestic altruistic surrogacy arrangements).
Over the last week or so I have been reading the flurry of articles reporting on baby Gammy and waiting for the media flurry to settle. It does not seem to be settling, instead the stories of surrogacy in Thailand are becoming increasingly more horrifying by the day. First we learnt that an Australian couple had abandoned one of their twins because he was born with Down’s syndrome, but the couple in question reportedly claimed not to know that they had a son, then we learnt that the father is a child sex offender. Could it get any worse? Finally, the couple spoke out publicly in an interview on 60 minutes. I think for many, this interview raised more concerns for the little girl in the couple’s care. And then, there is the story of the 24 year old Japanese business man who has fathered more than a dozen babies through different surrogacy clinics in Thailand. The knee jerk reaction to these extreme and disturbing stories is that commercial surrogacy should be banned. But would this help? I believe banning commercial surrogacy overseas will not stop IPs from taking this route. It is, after all, their last option in what is often a long journey into parenthood. During the course of my research I found that most of the IPs I spoke with were willing to pursue surrogacy at all costs, and despite changes to the law in NSW (effective in 2011) extending the ban on commercial surrogacy to overseas. What we need here is regulation, regulation, regulation. Should I say it again? Regulation. We need to offer IPs counselling, and ensure that surrogates are also receiving counselling. We need to ensure that the clinics and other go-betweens are following ethical guidelines. I could go on and on. But the point is, banning surrogacy, or commercial surrogacy, will push these arrangements underground. Regulation will enable greater visibility, appropriate support for all those involved, and decrease the likelihood of such extreme cases occurring.
According to this news report today, Georgia may be joining the UK and Australia with a ban on commercial surrogacy arrangements:
But as surrogacy reportedly thrives, Georgian experts and officials have become increasingly concerned about a lack of oversight. With help from the United Nations Population Fund, authorities are now starting to look at other countries’ policies on surrogacy and consider making changes to Georgia’s current practices. “There is a common agreement that the issue of surrogacy needs to be better regulated, and legislative, bioethical, social and economic factors need to be considered,” explained Deputy Minister of Labor, Health and Social Issues Mariam Jashi.
From a market standpoint, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that surrogacy is a lucrative sector in a country where well-paying jobs are scarce. “We have to recruit [surrogates] all the time, as the demand is much higher than we can actually meet,” noted Tamara Barkalaia, head of operations at New Life, one of seven surrogacy agencies in Tbilisi. In 2013, New Life handled 41 deliveries, she said.
Surrogacy is a hot topic in India. Activist and women’s groups are very much engaged in active research and policy work to ensure women working as surrogates are legally supported with rights that protect their interests.
And it seems that artists are also engaging in this subject. ‘Rabdi‘ is the story of a woman who chooses surrogacy work to make enough money to provide a better education and medical care for her disabled child.
With the up coming program “uncovering” surrogacy in India, I’m starting to feel like surrogacy hostels in India are a like ‘ye olde curiosity shop’ for western reporters. They enter the same hostels attached to the same clinic in the same city in India and report on exploitation, again. I’m not saying we don’t need media covering stories of surrogacy, but a more nuanced approach (and different clinics for example) would be really welcome around now…
Check out this image of the planned one stop shop Doctor Patel of Akshanka has planned! It looks like a design inspired by neurons. You can read the article here if you are interested in a bit of sensational reporting 😉 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2439977/The-baby-factory-In-huge-clinic-India-hundreds-women-paid-5-000-Western-couples-babies.html
I’m not sure about the title of this one – if anything is being outsourced in commercial/compensated surrogacy arrangements it is the uterus rather than life. Nonetheless this is an interesting account of transnational surrogacy.
You can have a read here: http://www.sfchronicle.com/local/bayarea/item/India-surrogacy-23858.php