No country allows the sale of human beings, so why is surrogacy still legal? Even if it’s ‘altruistic’, there’s a price to pay.
This week, Sweden took a firm stand against surrogacy. The governmental inquiry on surrogacy published its conclusions, which the parliament is expected to approve later this year. These include banning all surrogacy, commercial as well as altruistic, and taking steps to prevent citizens from going to clinics abroad.
Surrogacy may have been surrounded by an aura of Elton John-ish happiness, cute newborns and notions of the modern family, but behind that is an industry that buys and sells human life. Where babies are tailor-made to fit the desires of the world’s rich. Where a mother is nothing, deprived even of the right to be called “mum”, and the customer is everything. The west has started outsourcing reproduction to poorer nations, just as we outsourced industrial production previously.
In reality, “altruistic” surrogacy means that a woman goes through exactly the same thing as in commercial surrogacy, but gets nothing in return. It demands of the woman to carry a child for nine months and then give it away. She has to change her behaviour and risk infertility, a number of pregnancy-related problems, and even death. She is still used as a vessel, even if told she is an angel. The only thing she gets is the halo of altruism, which is a very low price for the effort and can only be attractive in a society where women are valued for how much they sacrifice, not what they achieve.