As I think about it now, I realize I can link this topic to the ongoing thread I’ve got on over-paying egg providers. The same concern–are people tempted to do something we really wish they wouldn’t do because of the amount of money to be made–underlies both discussions.
We worry (and I say “we” meaning to include myself) about the exploitation of women in India who become surrogates because of the financial inducements. (Mother Jones had a terrific article about this that I’ve been meaning to discuss for quite a while. Since I haven’t gotten around to it, I’ll just link to it for now.)
But surely the solution to this isn’t to offer less money, as that only leaves desperately poor women with even fewer options for survival. Better to think about ending global poverty, even if that seems like rather a tall order.
But putting concerns about the surrogates in India to one side for a moment, a number of recent stories highlight a different set of issues. Because of variations in law, the children being born to surrogates in India may be of uncertain parentage. And since this is a globalized trade, where the intended parents plan to take the children to some other country, uncertainty about parentage results in uncertainty about citizenship. And that means the children (and perhaps the intended parents) are stuck in limbo.
For example, here’s a story about an Israeli man who is stuck in India with the twins he commissioned from a surrogate. I’m not an expert on Israeli law, but it seems to me that Dan Goldberg is stuck in a perfect Catch-22. If he is the father of the twins then the twins get Israeli citizenship, which allows them to enter Israel. But an the Israeli court won’t determine parentage until the children undergo blood tests in Israel. And of course, the children cannot be brought to Israel for those blood tests unless they have the proper papers which they cannot get until their parentage is determined.
This is obviously not the first time an Israeli has used a surrogate in India, and it apparently generally works out better than this. That’s a good thing, but it is the total unpredictability of all this that is so disturbing. Efforts to address this via Indian law have so far been unsuccessful. This article recounts other instances where things have gone similarly awry.
I’m not sure I’ve any larger point to make here beyond the fact that the actual globalization of surrogacy has far outpaced the globalization of the law, leaving endless hazards for individuals who go this route. Sad to say, I see no prospect of it being all nicely organized any time soon.