Exploring the Harms of Overseas Surrogacy

 Exploring the Harms of Overseas Surrogacy

The concept of surrogacy has been a topic for debate ever since its inception. On one hand it gives childless couples an opportunity to complete their families, while on the other hand, it takes away the basic rights of a mother, who will stay childless despite giving birth. As controversial as it is, surrogacy has gained immense popularity worldwide. There is an option of hiring not just local women but women from other countries, to perform this service.
First, the eggs are extracted from a donor’s body (who may or may not be the surrogate mother of the baby). Then the eggs are fertilized with the father’s sperm and finally the foetus is implanted into the surrogate mother’s womb and she will nurture the 4244288-16x9-340x191growing baby inside her body for the next nine months. But once she gives birth to the child, her job is over. The child is immediately taken away from her.
Commercial surrogacy is against the laws in Australia and gay couples are not allowed to adopt in several parts of the country. Therefore, overseas surrogacy is the best alternative, couples are left with. In many cases, children are not even informed about their birth mothers whose voices they’ve heard and responded to and whose bodies have nourished them till the time they are healthy enough to enter this world.
Initially Indian women were popular choices for surrogacy but now, women from Thailand are being preferred. But the laws which are being followed in Thailand only make things harder for the mothers. The surrogate mother is required to be single but with previous children. In many cases the single status of the mother makes her even more vulnerable to exploitation and ill-treatment. Most of these women are uneducated and while signing a contract they are not informed properly regarding the clauses of the agreement. If she decides to change her mind, she can’t really do anything in order to get out of the situation.
There have been instances when due to drugs or other complicated procedures, health of the mother deteriorates after giving birth to the child, but no one really cares about the health or well-being of the mother once the baby is born. Today we have extremely humane laws as far as adoption is concerned but the rights of an overseas surrogate mother are literally non-existent.
A documentary on the topic called ‘Breeders – A Subclass of Women’ is being produced by the US Centre for Bioethics and Culture Network. The documentary explores some of the harms surrogacy is associated with, in general. Surrogate mothers often end up feeling used and exploited. They find it really hard to forget the child they birthed.
Sydney based surrogate mother, Shona Ryan shared her experiences by saying that her sub-consciousness, her emotions and her body scream to reach out to the baby but there’s nothing she can do now. The Family Law Council is all set to announce updated policies on ‘legal issues of parentage’, that include babies born through surrogacy as well. Let’s just hope that the reviewed report will support the rights of overseas surrogate mothers to know their babies.

Sumit Panwar

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