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Ethical Issues in Gestational Surrogacy


The introduction of contraceptive technologies hasresulted in the separation of sex and procreation. Theintroduction of new reproductive technologies (mainlyIVF and embryo transfer) has led not only to theseparation of procreation and sex, but also to there-definition of the terms mother and family.For the purpose of this essay, I will distinguishbetween:1. the genetic mother – the donor of the egg;2. the gestational mother – she who bears and gives birth to the baby;3. the social mother – the woman who raises the child.This essay will deal only with the form of gestationalsurrogacy in which the genetic parents intend to bethe social parents, and the surrogate mother has nogenetic relationship to the child she bears anddelivers. I will raise questions regarding medicalethical aspects of surrogacy and the obligation(s) ofthe physician(s) to the parties involved. I will arguethat the gestational surrogate is “a womb to rent,”that there is great similarity between gestationalcommercial surrogacy and organ transplant marketing.Furthermore, despite claims to freedom of choice andfree marketing, I will claim that gestationalsurrogacy is a form of prostitution and slavery,exploitation of the poor and needy by those who arebetter off. The right to be a parent, although notconstitutional, is intuitive and deeply rooted.However, the issue remains whether this rightoverrules all other rights, and at what price to theparties involved. I will finally raise the followingprovocative question to society: In the interim periodbetween today's limited technology and tomorrow'sextra-corporeal gestation technology (ectogenesis),should utilizing females in PVS (persistent vehetativestate) for gestational surrogacy be sociallyacceptable/permissible – provided they have leftpermission in writing?

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Ber, R. Ethical Issues in Gestational Surrogacy. Theor Med Bioeth 21, 153–169 (2000).

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