Coming to U.S. for Baby, and Womb to Carry It

Foreign citizens now make up most of the clients at large surrogacy agencies in the United States, highlighting a divide between the country and much of the world over fundamental questions on family.

Comments: 293

  1. I have mixed feelings about this. Yes, it's great that people can have a child if they have the money. I remember when it was said the rich get richer and the poor have children. Today the rich still get richer and have children, but the poor can afford nothing.

  2. The rich get richer, and the poor have the children for them.

  3. I must agree with Lulu, but I would go a little farther to say that in all countries of this world, the poor out number the rich by more than is humanly possible to calculate. Consider the USA where it is reported that one or two percent of the nations wealth is equal to, or greater than the remaining ninety-eight percent and the so called middle class appear to be shrinking yearly, as the rich get richer.

  4. Then let's pursue healthcare reform to lower costs, and encourage insurers to cover some infertility treatments, so that it's not only wealthy infertile couples who can pursue parenthood, but all infertile couples.

  5. I too have mixed feelings about this. It seems like so many of the world's problems seem related to overpopulation. Yes, I know that these people are not contributing a significant number of children to the population, but I despair at how much is being spent to create these children. Still, who would deny a couple the right to have a child to love? I just hope all of these children are truly loved forever and ever.

  6. Where did the idea come from that a person has the "right" to have a child? The surrogacy described in this article is the buying and selling of human beings, which is illegal, no matter how nice the people are who are paying for this.

  7. It's true that no one has some "right" to have a child. At issue here is merely the opportunity to have a child.

    If surrogacy involves "the buying and selling of human beings," then so do many other practices that no one (so far) has questioned--including adoption and even paying hospitals for the "delivery" of children.

  8. People don't have a right to health care either. But I bet you think they do? Rights are not determined by comments in the nytimes. And surrogacy is legal.

  9. I read an article that American (enlisted) military spouses were increasingly acting as international surrogates. The military has great medical care, so the pregnancy gets paid for by Uncle Sam and the baby goes overseas. I hope the DoD has outlawed this practice. The adoptive parents should pay all pregnancy expenses not the US taxpayers.

  10. Folks brave enough to enlist in the military work very hard for their benefits. We taxpayers provide those benefits as compensation in exchange for work.

  11. I'm a veteran, Dave--and my husband met our son when the baby was 5 months old because my husband was in Iraq in 2005. The benefits are supposed to be for the military member and his or her family. It's at least $10,000 (I've read as high as $30,000) for a healthy pregnancy. The costs of the pregnancy are being passed from the adoptive (usually European) parents to the surrogate, so the child isn't even staying in the States. The American taxpayer should not be responsible for this.

    There are only so many Tricare dollars in the budget and this practice of transferring the pregnancy costs on the system is pretty controversial among our military members and their families.

    The military spouse in the article usually says the benefits for her are 1) altruism and 2) earning an extra $25,000. Feel free to argue that the enlisted soldiers, sailors and airmen and women should be paid better so their spouses don't feel they need to earn money on the side in this manner.

    This form of surrogacy is an abuse of the system and siphons money away from the military families who earned them.

  12. That's disgusting. Further, how many children are in poverty, starving, foster care, waiting for parents to love them? Adopt, people! And overpopulation, yes.

  13. Have you tried to adopt a healthy infant? I have, and I promise you, it is often a long, heartbreaking process. Most children who are available for adoption in the US are older and have complicated histories. Older kids need loving families too, but they often thrive under the care of experienced parents.

    The great thing about having an infant is that the parents get to learn to be parents as the child grows up.

    I know many people who tried for years to adopt an infant, but no infant was available for them. Some of these people have moved on to surrogacy.

  14. Don't mind Teresa, folks. It is still fine to have your own baby. Adoption is not for everyone.

  15. If we were to ban surrogacy, would we then ban sperm donation? It would unfair to allow couples with male infertility or lesbian couples requiring sperm for pregnancy to easily and relatively inexpensively pursue donor sperm, if infertile women or homosexual couples could not pursue surrogacy when medically indicated. Yes, the cost of fertility treatments is absurd, so imagine what some infertile couples must go through (emotionally and financially) to pursue them. Just because some people abuse a treatment (ie, pursuing surrogacy to save their waistline) we should not consider eliminating a medical treatment which is the only way some couples can launch a family.

  16. This article focuses on the problems the adults involved may have with surrogacy but there is no mention of whether or not the agencies evaluate the suitability of those who will bring up the child.

  17. lindael:

    Wow! Soon we'll have to get a government agency's certificate that we are fit parents before we can have a child!

  18. There SHOULD be evaluation of parents before they raise children. Many problems in the world stem from bad parents. And it has nothing to do with the amount of money they have. The wealthy can be just as bad at parenting as the poor. Most can be educated in parenting classes but some may be having children for the wrong reasons that no education can change...

  19. Soon?

    Let your kids play in your front yard or have them walk to school like we did when we were kids and you'll have DCS or some alphabet agency at your door. They can order you to take drug tests +/or remove your children from you immediately etc etc with no warrant.

  20. How about the tens of thousands of children coming over the border from Central America? I worked in Honduras and we were inundated with mothers trying to give away their kids so they could come to the US and that was in the 1980's. That was also true in Iraq and less so in Afghanistan.

  21. Those children already have loving families. Even Americans shouldn't just steal someone else's kid because you want one.

  22. Two loving families might be better than one. Supposed to happen when people get married. or is that then three loving families.. No matter.

  23. They wanted to give the children away.....they had too many....try feeding eight kids with a tiny plot of land. They figured correctly they had a better future in the US. They desperately wanted birth control but the men do not allow it for fear they would sleep around.

  24. Curious that so many countries outlaw surrogacy. Do they also outlaw wet nurses?

  25. That is hardly the same thing, and "wet nursing" largely went out once they developed safe baby formula.

  26. Yes, and also after slavery was abolished.

  27. Not a bad idea to make the production of human milk a mini industry... still the best food for the infant to 6-month old...

  28. “Just like we don’t pay for blood or semen, we don’t pay for eggs or sperm or babies,” said Abby Lippman, an emeritus professor at McGill University in Montreal who studies reproductive technology.

    Extracting blood and semen takes mere minutes and the respective processes are virtually risk free.

    Extracting eggs requires multiple injections of hormones spread out over several weeks to stimulate ovulation, and it doesn't always work. Obviously, babies take approximately 9 months to gestate inside a woman's body in a process that is rife with possible complications.

    I believe women deserve to be compensated for the risks associated with having a baby for someone else.

  29. The better analogy might be organ transplants, then. Most people regard the idea of paying an organ donor as rife with implications for the exploitation of poor people. The trope has been used by many writers to illustrate themes of class and of third-world exploitation by the first world. The reason Americans don't see surrogacy as being on a par with buying a kidney from a Calcutta slum-dweller is that here it's all open and above-board, lawyers are involved, and it seems very sanitized. But as soon as money is involved, power comes into play.

  30. So this is a career choice for women? They can be professional for hire breeders…..see "The Handmaiden's Tale"….creepy beyond belief. Surrogacy is un-natural and I find the whole concept to be disgusting in every way.

  31. The issue isn't risks, it's compensation. And Canada isn't paying. Good for Canada.

  32. I thought I was a liberal until I read this article. I'm not sure I am so comfortable with surrogacy or some artificial means of having a child anymore. There is a reason things are the way they are, that nature is the way it is. I don't know. It's so hard. There are many biological parents who are bad parents, and so many people who cannot have children naturally that would or do make wonderful parents. But I also worry about all the complications and ramifications of tinkering with nature, in biological, ethical, and legal/logistical aspects, and in terms of the future well-being of the baby, the person carrying the baby, and the person(s) raising the baby. If the outcome of an arrangement is good, then everyone is happy and congratulatory and filled with warm and fuzzy feelings. But if the outcome is bad, then you can't help but wonder, why do we allow this, things would have been much better if we left nature alone.

  33. What does anything you say have to do with being a "liberal"?

  34. Spoken by someone who has clearly never had to actually grapple personally with these issues in the first place.

  35. It sounds like children are cars, and they want what the Jones bought, too. We all have to face limitations, sometimes. It is not the worst thing in the world for someone not to be able to physically have children with your specific "genetic" makeup in them. All children are beautiful. And there are so many children who need to be adopted. This is exploitation and profiteering off the poverty of women.

  36. "But many Chinese parents take a different tack, keeping the American citizenship automatically conferred on every baby born here."

    It's time to re-evaluate birthright citizenship.

  37. No evaluation required, it's time to end it.

    In 1789 you were became a citizen essentially for the asking, a century later, you had at pass a health screening at Ellis Island, a century after that you got on a long waiting list or used the wink/nudge illegal status to get amnesty.

    Now we put the trespasser at the front of the line.
    Rewarding wrong conduct is something today's politicians love to do, because it rewards people much like themselves.

  38. Reevaluate birthright citizenship? Talk about overreaction.

    According to the article there were 2000 babies born in the US through gestational surrogacy and 10 years ago it was about 333. If ten percent of those were of Chinese citizens then we're talking about 200 now and maybe 33 ten years ago. For a country the size of China with a population of 1.3 BILLION those numbers are a drop in the bucket. The Chinese are not sneaking over en mass.

  39. Well heeled Chinese have done this for years. They often send married younger family members here as students, and then encourage them to have a child while here so that the family will have a future base here of U.S. citizenship. That is seen as a safety valve or escape mechanism to be used, as needed, in the future for a U.S. citizen to sponsor overseas relatives who need to escape political disfavor or to transfer threatened assets. It is a form of long-range planning for people who tend to think that way.

  40. celebrities purchase 3rdworld children to build their own mafia

  41. How sad for you, is that the best that you guys can up with?

  42. This is all about capitalism, America's dream.

  43. And soon to become America' s nightmare.

  44. The unrelenting growth of the human population in the U.S.A., fueled by archaic notions "freedom", abundance and infinite resource capacity, will prove the the nations unwinding. Natural process drive and dominate the human endeavor, as with all biological species, and humans are capable only to the extent that the size of the population does not exceed the carrying capacity of the land.

  45. Three very obvious words come to mind here: Brave New World.

    Huxley was extraordinarily prescient in his creation of a liberal society that reduces humans to mere biological processes and blindly worships technology. The idea that there are no limits - that nothing is sacred - is what created this inhuman market for female incubators and designer children.

    PS - the google placed ads next to this article are priceless: a company called Growing Generations - "Become a surrogate. Create a family" - wow - might as well read, "Become a Delta..."

  46. Too bad no one reads Brave New World anymore. Huxley was a genius!

  47. 'Three very obvious words come to mind here: Brave New World.'
    Three other words come to mind: The Handmaid's Tale.
    Not mutually exclusive nightmares. But I agree, it was impossible to read that 'pick of the litter' anecdote, followed by the story of Heather Rice, and not think of Huxley.

  48. "Liberal society?" Actually, this is all about free enterprise - a very conservative, red-blooded American concept.

  49. " And even more so when three women are involved: the genetic mother, whose egg is used; the mother who carries the baby; and the one who commissioned and will raise the child."

    "The one who commissioned and will raise the child" will love, and care for, and mother the child. And while I'm being fussy, I like rear better than raise here.

  50. "The one who commissioned and will raise the child" will love, and care for, and mother the child." - Hopefully, they will love the child who is effectively the product of their husband and another, more fertile, woman. Realitiy is, and I know real life examples of this, that it is harder to have that deep, genuine mother love for a child created under those circumstances. A woman is raising her stepchild and as that child grows, she will be less likely than a biological mother to have those moments of recognition, when you see bits of yourself in your child, moments that strengthen the bond.

  51. The biggest problem you see with this scenario is the word choice?

  52. Adopt a baby that's already born and unwanted.

  53. Where? How? Methinks you haven't investigated this "obvious" option before offering it to others.

  54. Central America for one. A family I know adopted there now 21 year old daughter and later was offered her brother.. who they were unable/did not wish to adopt. (Children are pricey.)

    Ever watched Wednesday's day child on TV... They may not be babies but these children no longer cute and cuddly also need/want love, homes,etc.

  55. Agreed!

  56. I find this story very disturbing. These are men pressuring for rights -- vs. the rights of usually poor women and their biological children. You can't get away from the patriarchy issue in this whole thing .. *just because* they're gay and it's fashionable to be in favor of gay rights these days. Germany, btw, is a much more "advanced" nation insofar as respect for gay rights is concerned, but surrogacy is ILLEGAL there, with respect to the rights of women and children, who are not chattel. The woman who says "we don't need the money; for me, I just love to birth babies for others" sounds like an "astute" business person as far as this baby trade is concerned. I would feel more comfortable if our society had a Basic Income Guarantee that lifted all women out of poverty; in which case, as far as surrogancy is concerned, we would likely see "volunteerism" dropping radically. And the seeking fathers would have to find someone who is as "truly motivated" as this mesugah in the article! Abolish poverty for women - in India, too - and then come back and talk about surrogacy. It's like saying that prostitution is not a bad way to make a living - after all, haven't you read "The Happy Hooker?" If you want to have children, why don't you stop seeing children as commodities - and if you have that kind of money - adopt someone! There are so many children who need homes. We just had 55,000 kids walk across the American border as refugees.

  57. Um, yeah, Germany not so "much more "advanced" nation insofar as respect for gay rights". There is no same-sex marriage.

    "commercial surrogacy is illegal for all couples regardless of sexual orientation" - Wikipedia.

    So, you're cherry-picking your arguments and not telling the whole story.

  58. What does any of this have to do with " patriarchy"? This article features some men who hire surrogate mothers, but so do some women. Moreover, what does any of this have to do with "chattel"?

    It's true that poor women are more likely to become surrogate mothers for rich couples--including women--but poor people are always more likely than rich people to do difficult or unpleasant or dangerous jobs. Let's eliminate poverty, sure, but let's do that for both women and men.

  59. You lost me with the basic income guarantee. I'm female, a racial minority, childless. I go to work every--to a job not a career. That's they way it is; no guarantees.

  60. Nearly 20 years ago, I wrote a dissertation about surrogacy. I hated the practice then, and I hate it now. Women are not just convenient gestation containers who (whew!) don't have any genetic connection to the child and therefore cannot claim they are the mother. And yet the gestation container model is what we are stuck with. The ethical conundrums are endless with surrogacy, as this article highlights. Not to mention the issues of class underlying the practice. A closer look at who becomes a surrogate and why versus who pays for a surrogate and why would reveal a deep class divide.

  61. LM, all pregnancies are chancy. Ever very women I know says the same thing, "I hope my baby is healthy." And, their is no guarantee that parents will be good, or that they will be able to care for a child because of some health problem, or even be able to afford raising a child due to unforeseen circumstance. I would like to see more adoptions, but if that is not what is desired, then using a surrogate is okay with me. Life of any sort is a chance.

  62. If you don't like surrogacy, don't become a surrogate.

    In the meantime stop bullying other people who make a different choice.

    Without any first or second-hand knowledge of any, I have always considered surrogates to be saintly women who bring a lot of happiness to others. (If any are reading this, don't let the thugs intimidate you).

    In character, you gratuitously inject the issue of class into the discussion. A closer look at who adopts would also reveal a class divide. So what?

    Parents who have worked hard and built a nest egg -- and a nest -- sound to me like ideal parents. Good luck to them.

  63. What a beautiful on point and well expressed comment covering the issues of class and exploitation as well as the host of troublesome ethical issues. But, we are members of the consumerist western culture. We must have whatever we can afford, and heaven help those who say we can't. Thank heaven some countries and jurisdictions say no, or at least put some strict rules in play. This is no arena for Wild West ethics free transactions.

  64. Oh joy. Another forum to bash the infertile. People who wouldn't dream of saying a single word against a poor woman who unwisely has five children she cannot afford will turn around and readily bash the infertile who resorts to assisted reproduction rather than adoption. The hypocrisy is stunning and hypocritical.

  65. People aren't bashing the infertile (BTW, I am one of those supposedly "unfortunate" infertile people). They are calling into question the morality of human beings as commodities. They also question what it means to be a parent. Why, in other words, is it supposedly superior to have a child born with your DNA than to adopt a child that is in need of a loving family? Many would argue that, to choose surrogacy over adoption, is a somewhat egotistical venture. I, as one of those "unfortunate" infertile people you claim to support, agree wholeheartedly with them.

  66. The reason people bash the infertile is because they selfishly can't accept their lot in life and use their energies to help existing human beings instead of wasting resources going to extreme measures to get their own little (at least partial) self-replicant. Why is your DNA so special that the species must have it in the pool?

    I feel equal disdain for and exasperation with people who unwisely have any number of children, from one upward.

  67. With you Ordinary Person. Because it leads to all those who say "just adopt" and have no idea how hard and expensive it is. Both parents over a certain age. Cost of home eval. Social services evaluators who fail people to gain the state agency more funding. Time off work when there is little vacation time. Single people identified as candidates for the child with the highest levels of care which is totally out of the question if you work full time. It goes on and on.

  68. As someone who is both gay and adopted I find it absolutely abhorrent the amount of couples I know who seem to think nothing of raising a child completely separated from one of its biological parents.

    The rallying cry seems to be the outdated notion that only the people who raised you are your parents and the resulting children should remain grateful and naive about the process. Anyone who has been in a similar situation will tell you life is more complicated than that. Simply loving someone doesn't trump their basic biological drive to understand their identity.

    This is much more complex than smiling pictures of babies and happy families implies. And it's an issue I feel like the media and public is largely ignoring because they don't want to trample on anyone's notion of 'gay rights.'

  69. That's why the lesbian couple I know had the brother of one provide the sperm that impregnated her wife. This meant their little girl was raised two parents with a genetic connection to her. She had a close relationship with her biological father who in his role as " uncle dad" saw her regularly. And it meant her 2 sets if grandparents were in fact her biological grandparents. Ditto for her cousins and other extended family. Sure made life a lot better for her.

  70. All adoptees must cope with the fact that they were separated from their biological parents. Some do it with ease and some have more difficulty. However, persons produced through egg "donation" (yes actual people are created through this process) have the greatest burden. They must cope with the fact that their greatest loss (of their biological relations) was intentionally arranged by their OWN PARENT(S). This inconvenient truth should give pause to potential baby making parents but...

  71. This article is fairly honest, but most pander to the desire for wealthy, older single or gay couples to get to have children "just like ordinary young straight couples do!" Never mind Mother Nature. They want what they want, and society must give it to them. (The next frontier is to force the government and taxpayers to PAY for this! because otherwise such prospective parents are being "denied their right to have a child".)

    Sure, at the beginning is a smiling adoptive parent and a cute little infant. But what about 10 years later? Or 20 years later? What about the child's questions or need to know his real mother (if one even exists)?

    Look at the agonizing struggle that ordinary adopted children go through, when they search for their bio-families as adults. Such kids always feel there is something missing, and go searching for it. It will be even more so for these "designer babies" with no roots or connections to the adults raising them.

  72. It's already difficult for children to grow up without a mother, or a father. Add to that the experience of being born of a mother who doesn't know you and was paid to have you.
    If children are brought up with love they have a shot in life. But this seems like more depersonalization than is fair to ask for.

  73. Just wondering - these children are American citizens by virtue of having been born here? And the birth mothers received compensation for that birth.So in effect their citizenship was bought. I have nothing against surrogacy but when it crosses borders and becomes bought citizenship I think we need to take another look at what is legal here.

  74. we have to take a look at what's legal, regardless. If you are born in the US, you automatically receive citizenship. But the State Department has decided that if you (as an American citizen) give birth abroad, and have gotten pregnant via IVF utilizing an egg donor, then the child doesn't have automatic US citizenship.

  75. You have more of a problem with bought citizenship than a bought child?

  76. Not all surrogate pregnancies are bought. FYI most adoptions involve con siderable cost so I guess you'd call that a bought child as well.

  77. Morally, this plan is really a bad one. The future is chock full of sad stuff that can't be made up. Please, NYT, a P&J follow up every year.

  78. My concerns about the surrogacy industry have less to do with the adult women who rent out their bodies than with the commissioning of baby production from parts effectively purchased on the open market. Babies are human beings. The DNA that is being "donated" is what makes each one unique but also like the rest of its family, a family that the resulting child will never know. Aside from the dawn-to-dusk forced labor, I don't see a whole lot of difference between this and selling slave babies. Biological connections matter. They substantially reduce the risk of child abuse of all kinds, for starters. They increase the likelihood a child will "fit in" with the rest of the family. Success stories don't negate this reality.

    Also, think about the situation from the child's perspective: Unlike in adoption, they weren't a preexisting entity who was given a home; they were specifically sold by at least one parent to be made up into a baby for the family raising them. Can you imagine going through adolescence knowing you had a "real" mom (or dad) out there? And that they were probably perfectly fine, functional people, maybe even more so than your legal mother? The best interests of the child should matter more than the adults' desires.

  79. Sounds like you don't have a problem with surrogacy, but rather with the buying and selling of eggs.

  80. Let's also remember sperm donations have been going on for decades.

  81. Problems with the whole thing.

  82. "Miracle of birth" "new life" --- blah blah.. The planet, if anything seems to have too many people... and there also seem to be plenty of "disadvantaged/under cared for" older children out there-- some standing at the border even as I type.

    IMO let's go back to "family of mankind" not "family of me DNA." Also a bit of let's save the planet.

    This is why there are laws...

  83. These families are not looking for a late teen aged Mexican gang member who is crossing the border illegally into America as a potential family member. They are looking for a new baby with their genes who can be raised in a happy home and become a contributing member of society, hopefully not a criminal which is what everyone crossing the American border illegally is.

  84. If you can't procreate naturally there are reasons why and they need to be accepted as painful as that may be to accept…so just adopt a child who needs a home.

  85. I named by daughter, born of surrogacy, Mercedes, because the price I paid for her, I could have bought a Mercedes, so that she can be reminded forever how dear (in both senses of the word, expensive and cherished) she is to me.

    Well, naming her BMW was out of the question.

  86. Exactly. You bought her like a car, and for the same reasons.

  87. If you had twins, would you have gone with Mercedes and Benz or upgraded to Rolls and Royce?

  88. Pardon me if this is rude, but if she'd turned out to be a lemon, would you have returned her to the dealership and gotten a loaner daughter or perhaps a replacement?
    I know your comment was supposed to be cute and witty.

  89. Although this is great for wealthy individuals and gay couples it also highlights other issues such as human rights and being pregnant in the US is not a life threatening ordeal. The fact is deaths among pregnant women are growing worldwide. Furthermore I am sure none of these surrogacy agencies donate any money towards improving maternal healthcare conditions, human rights, or let alone have knowledge of Millennium Development Goal 5. They profit from these conditions.

  90. I recognize this may come across as quite rude, but to me it seems strange to go to another country and spend $150k to have a child via third party who won't even have a genetic link with you. It just seems much more sensible to adopt, especially when most countries have a great need for loving adoptive parents, and $150k could certainly provide a better upbringing than most kids have.

  91. But the babies DO have a genetic link. The sperm is from the prospective father. That would NOT be the case in an adoption.

  92. Because the fantasy they are playing at is to make real what cannot be real in their "relationship"; to make it "normative" through completely non-normative means; it's politics and egoism, which the innocent child will one day learn.

  93. Adoption is extremely rare and difficult in European countries. This is a naive comment.

  94. To "commission" a child?
    Human beings should not be for sale. Poor(er) women should not be exploited by wealthier people. Noone should be entitled to purchase a child. What if the mother dies in childbirth? Is that just the cost of doing business? How would the "loving parents" explain this bit of collateral damage to the child? Where will the commodification of people in general and women in particular stop?

  95. Death in childbirth is a cost of procreation...the same as with permanent mothers dieing in childbirth. The difference being; in spite of the birth mother's death (who contributes no DNA), the child grows up with their loving and caring biological mother (with whom they share their DNA)...the ensuing explanation, assuming there is one, could end with, "...unfortunately your birthing mother didn't survive."

    Short answer: Never!

    As long as we live in a currency driven for-profit society, the "commodification" of people (aka, "working for a return") will also exist. We trade our time and talents for money to acquire the necessities and luxuries we need and want...this has been true since humans stopped being hunters-gatherers, formed stationary communities and developed the specialized survival skills necessary for a communal setting.

    Gestation is a talent intrinsic to females and is, along with the copulation with, in great demand. As long as the desire to be parents is pervasive, driving and undeniable, surrogates will be sought and...with compensation...found.

  96. Thanks for drawing attention to this language, "commissioning a child". It is an abhorrent term, and using language like this both reflects and shapes our thinking. If we can't think of healthy language for what this is, then that may signal that it shouldn't be done.

  97. Just another example of the slow, steady decline of the United States toward Third World status. We have now become the world's baby factory of choice for healthy white infants.

  98. The United States became a third world country when conservatives began to have political sway and legislative successes...

  99. I wouldn't say our country's decline is slow. Unfortunately, it's happening with lightening speed. We are already a third world nation.

  100. The issue of exploitation is a complex one. What is the difference, theoretically speaking, between a woman who accepts payment to carry someone else's child, and a young, strapping man who accepts payment to work in a coal mine? The answer is not one of clear right and wrong, rather one of personal comfort level and societal acceptance.

  101. The difference is that the coal doesn't care about who produced it.

  102. How about "morally speaking", a lot more important than your "theorectically speaking"?

  103. The young man selling his labor and his time. The woman is selling her body. By your definition, prostitution is no different than being a longshoreman. Most decent people disagree with that.

    Taken logically, your theory means that it is perfectly OK to sell one's self into slavery.

  104. Wait a minute, first they beat us in soccer and now the are taking our babies? !?!?!

  105. Very creepy article to read this weekend, after a week in which protective barriers designed to shield medical workers and women from hostile protesters was struck down, and any church-going corporation (must have a heck of a big pew!) can deny a woman contraception because it violates the corporation's sense of morality.

    So now that contraception may be beyond the reach of poor women due to finances, and now that more will be afraid of entering a clinic due to hostile protesters, she can always sell her baby to some nice couple from the Netherlands.

    This can't be real life - someone please tell me it is a dystopian movie. please.

  106. Corporations are not denying women contraceptives-they just wont include it as a fringe benefit. My God, don't you understand the difference?

  107. Yes but this being the good old US of A where capitalism trumps all we'll gladly SELL you a baby

  108. You hit the nail on the head!

  109. The possible ethical problems caused by this issue are almost limitless, as the article demonstrates. This is what happens when humans are treated as a means to an end, not as ends in themselves.

  110. It is supposed to be about "what is in the best interest of the child" -- always.

    How is ANY of this in the best interest of ANY child? to be used as an expensive custom accessory? to be gestated in a stranger, in a foreign country? to use (for money) the womb of a poor woman in order to appease a rich man or woman?

    It obviously took a nanosecond of time for people to decide they wanted to do things like create six IVF babies in a surrogate and then "choose" the two cutest ones. Sure, a doctor said no -- THIS TIME. What about next time? Several people quoted here say "it's not my business who wants a baby or why". Hello, Octomom!

  111. Shame on you New York Times for disclosing what the source of your story wanted to keep private!

    “… said Paulo, who spoke on the condition that neither his last name nor that of his husband, João, be used since what they were doing is a crime in Portugal.” Those words… along with a photo that clearly shows much of one of their faces. And… note that the New York Times is widely read all around the world, including in Portugal.

  112. Had one child. 50 hours of labor. We love our child (now an adult) but I could never have had another. Doctor told me: "Your labor could be worse." Had a tubal then.
    How do women go through this MORE THAN ONCE?

  113. Only in America can you make a billion dollar industry out of selling babies and embryos. With no one overseeing anything about the prospective parents, who is to say for what purpose these children are being bred. Sex trade, some other form of exploitation who knows and apparently no one cares.
    How sad that the same problem facing dogs in America is now facing humans; so many unwanted and available for adoption but people paying huge amounts to get a pedigree.
    Having been alive for the whole saga of this technology emergence I can see the naysayers were right this is a technological nightmare that devalues human life.
    The proud United States of America with our new export, humans.

  114. 100% agree. The way we treat animals is a reflection of how we treat ourselves (paraphrasing Albert Schweitzer).

  115. No one oversees anything about regular pregnancies, many of which are unintended. THOSE children are far more likely to become victimes of the sex trade. Nor are there many unwanted babies in the US available for adoption. Your comments are ill-informed.

  116. I am finding it impossible to think about this issue rationally. My conscience keeps interrupting.

  117. There are 30 million babies born EVERY month. Why add to this growing problem with surrogacy in the first place?

    It's time disincentives to child birth we put in place rather than incentives.

  118. I feel particularly qualified to speak about the challenges of pregnancy as I am currently 34 weeks into my second. For the record, the child is mine and my husbands. Pregnancy, even an uncomplicated, healthy pregnancy is very physically challenging. I feel great, the unborn baby is healthy but pregnancy is challenging. No amount of money can compensate a women for the intensely laborious (pun intended) work that is pregnancy. This really is exploitation of women regardless of whether they, themselves, choose to acknowledge the exploitative nature of the transaction. Furthermore, the concept of social surrogacy, 'having someone else carry their baby so as not to damage their career, or their figure' is ethically and morally repugnant. The take away from this is, the United States of America, the once great nation, has become the third world where money can buy literally anything, even another human being.

  119. While they are rare, there are women who do surrogacy not because they need the money but because they love being pregnant and want to help couples who can't have babies on their own. I know such a woman. She's very much the Earth Mother type and only accepts money for medical expenses. She rarely does it but when she does her husband is supportive and her kids think it's neat. She's even willing to pump breast milk for the baby. Her only request is that she and her family can see the baby grow up. The families are happy to do that because they view this as a special relationship and they know my friend has no designs on their baby. After all, my friend believes her family is complete and has no desire to add to it.

  120. We here in this country most often have a disdain of others who do things for money. But, this is a world where people sell their children into slavery and prostitution because they owe someone some money. This is a world in which women have - forever - turned to prostitution because they had no money. Not unheard of. And,this has become a country where more and more people are sliding from the middle class into what has to be destitution because of medical or educational debts which do not get obliterated by bankruptcy. This is a world and a country where people work in sweat shops for slave wages. Until the relatively rich get a handle on what life is like without riches, they really shouldn't talk
    about what one should or should not do for money.

  121. You don't seem at all qualified to have an opinion since you are among the fortunate parents who have given birth to their own healthy children.

    You don't answer the $64,000 question -- which is what you would have done if you had found that a fluke of nature meant you could not bear a child with your husband.

    A little compassion for parents who find themselves in that situation would not come amiss.

  122. OH, dear. When our daughter was 9 a friend told her (they were sitting on the porch and I heard them) that "My Mommy is having a baby and it is in her
    stomach." Daughter stormed into the house and told me: "She knows nothing of the WOMB." I would think in this day and age people know that
    babies are not in STOMACHS. Daughter is a grown up now.

  123. The amount of moral "high-browness" in the comments here is concerning. As long as things such as "designer babies" are banned from the practice, surrogacy can be and is a great thing. As a gay male I haven't made up my mind whether I want children or not... However having that option is great. Also, I would think that most people here really have not idea, and therefore cannot empathize, with people who are not physically able to have children. You decided you want to be child free? Great! Good for you! But there may be some other person out there who does want children. Surrogacy is a COMPLETELY VIABLE way of starting a family and should not be vilified. What I find really strange is that the same exact people that rant and rave about how women should be able to choose what to do with their body, are criticizing and victimizing women who CHOSE to be a surrogate. This, in my opinion, shows that ALL SIDES not just conservatives have the potential to be hypocrites. Lastly the notion that many people here (a lot of them liberals) have that everything is better in other countries (the grass is always greener on the other side) such as Germany are seriously delusional. I have lived in Europe for a long time and I can tell you that even here there are open discussions about issues such as these. And to the person saying that Germany is more liberal than us, gay marriage is still illegal there and many parts of the country (such as Bavaria) are downright repressive.

  124. Simon, it really isn't about "you" and frankly I'm glad there are still people around who have morals. Having a baby isn't the same as buying a designer suit. If people want children they should do what they have done for centuries find a suitable partner of the opposite sex and procreate. This is as nature intended.

  125. You will notice that poor women who are unable to bear children do not have the option of purchasing a surrogate mother for offspring: you would have the poor face consequences of physical limitations you are unwilling to impose on yourself. Surrogacy is an option not for everyone, but for a very privileged class of people, for whom we are supposed to feel sympathy as they buy the bodies of the poor. The line between this, buying organs and even slavery is very fine. Perhaps you will found a surrogacy charity for poor women unable to bear children?

  126. Nature didn't intend for us to have c-sections, organ transplants, allergy shots, or chemotherapy, all of which save people's lives, but we still do them anyways. I'd love to see you abstain from everything that isn't nature intended including living in your electrified house and see how far you get. Your argument has serious flaws.

  127. I don't understand how anyone who has gone through pregnancy and childbirth, or as a man observed this first hand, would think that commodification of this experience was a good idea. Haven't these people read the handmaids tale?
    Further it is clear from the article that these agencies are quite corrupt and have zero sense of moral responsibility.
    I cannot imagine how damaging it must be for the surrogate mother. And the child that ponders it's own 5 party existence ?

  128. I confess I almost stopped reading at 'pick of the litter'. I'm glad I got to Heather Rice's story, which chilled me. "We don't want this one. Throw it away". I'm as close to a pro-choice absolutist as you can get, but "Mom walked out of the room" - she's not "Mom" she's "the purchaser". Brrr.
    Admittedly surrogacy has been around since Abraham went in unto Hagar and begat Ishmael. It's really just a logical brand extension of an ages-old system in which aristocratic families who wanted the benefits of offspring without the mess farmed out the more unappealing tasks to wet nurses, nannies, governesses, and miscellaneous other childminders.
    If you are going to make children into commodities and posit that anyone who has enough cash is entitled to one, and that like any consumer product the purchaser is entitled to get what he wants and what he's paying for, this is the result.
    I'm also gay. But no sympathy at all for surrogacy. Plenty of existing adoptable kids need homes. Don't go Frankensteining more just for the ego trip of perpetuating your DNA. Children are not a hip fashion accessory for the affluent (of any orientation).

  129. Agreed, except that Abraham took Hagar as a concubine, a second wife, because his first wife Sarah was infertile (until God finally blessed her with a child in her old age, or so the story goes). That's not a surrogacy in the sense we use the word today. Polygamy was common in the Bronze age, at least for the wealthy men of the day. Abraham and Hagar were married, they had sex and produced a real biological child that was the product of both their DNA -- nothing wonky about that.

    Unless you disapprove of polygamy. If you sign on to the gay marriage agenda, you have no right to tell other people (even 4000 years ago) that their alternate forms of marriage are inferior to YOURS (invented in 2003).

  130. Concerned, Hagar was not a full-fledged wife. She was a servant, used and discarded, along with her son, when the real wife objected and did manage to bear a child of her own.
    Aside from muddying the waters with an irrelevant digression into a separate issue, you are wrong. Marriage is a civil contract, like forming a corporation, entering into employment, making a will, etc. Only very recently has the notion of 'marrying for love' superseded 'traditional marriage' which was, and in many places still is, an outright financial transaction in which one family sells another a breeder woman in order to merge property. In such an arragement a girl could be forced to marry her rapist,and, again, this still happens in 'traditional' cultures.
    As such, civil marriage is whatever we define it to be. I personally don't give a flip about polygamy, among consenting adults, but with regard to civil marriage there are practical reasons, which would stand up in a court of law, to limiting it to two competent, consenting adults.

  131. What a cheap way to purchase a ticket into the US. Child gets citizenship and can sponsor its parents.

  132. Really? Cheap??? First the dads bear the costs of the surrogacy. Then they have to raise the child to adulthood. Then the grown child has to legally immigrate to the US (or walk in over the border from Mexico) and THEN sponsor his or her parents. Kind of a long-term project.

  133. Have you heard of birth tourism? It does exist. People who can afford to do so come to the US to give birth so their children have US citizenship. Nothing surprises me anymore.

  134. Adults feed their fantasies with impunity in this brave new world, with the lives of others.

    Abomination is a word which has quite gone out of fashion, along with all moral distinctions and drawing of lines-- unacceptable to "grown-ups" who have enough money. Next, they'll want our money for it.

  135. Another cottage industry? Now the Chinese are coming here for surrogacy? There is definitely something wrong with this picture. Movie stars making this attractive to ordinary people? This is not a designer bag, people!

  136. Just because the technology exists does not mean we have to use it. The ethical issues raised by these circumstances are very disturbing.

  137. "Those countries abhor what they call the commercialization of baby making and view commercial surrogacy as inherently exploitive of poor women, noting that affluent women generally do not rent out their wombs."

    In other words, what these pseudo-liberals are saying to us is that if you're not rich already we're not going to give you a chance to climb out of poverty and become affluent. How progressively they suppress the impoverished.

  138. This argument seems a bit thin to me. How many babies will it take to be carried, for one women to crawl out of poverty and into the middle class? I am not against surrogacy, in general, but don't believe it is a viable career path.
    Woman need better economic choices.

  139. $20,000 per pregnancy will not get anyone out of poverty, though it may be more than minimum wage for the period. And what if the woman develops some issue that interferes with her ability to work later? or just makes it harder?

  140. The average surrogate gets less than $10,000 -- for 9 months -- that's a tad over $1000 a month! and no extra pay for going through agonizing labor and delivery OR a painful C-section.

    That's chump change, my friend. Do the math -- see how much it pays PER HOUR. It wouldn't get anyone out of poverty. It won't even buy a decent used car.

  141. Hmmmm. Since the dawn of time, women have been thought of as nothing more than baby makers, and certainly not worthy of the status men gave themselves. Now, when women make money on that ability, they are scorned and attacked.

  142. Personally, I would prefer to challenge and change the perception that women are "nothing more than baby makers," not cynically embrace it.

  143. The point is that women are much more than "baby makers." Surrogacy doesn't help forward the women's movement toward equality, fyi!

  144. I would say pitied, and the same government that allows them to have birth control apparently believes that they should have a right to make money from their fertility.

    Pitied, not scorned. Not attacked. It is our screwed up country that allows it.

  145. It is easy to emphatize with wanting a child at all cost. What isn't all clear, is why must it be through a commercial surrogate when so many kids around the world are available for adoption. One is able to love an adopted child as one loves its own. We love our pets as if they were our own, let alone a child. Adoption would benefit both ,not to mention providing no more homeless child raised in an institution.

  146. A friend of mine's wife was about to undergo a medical procedure where "her blood will be run through a Thai woman" overseas to "cleanse" it and he asked if I thought it was unethical. My jaw dropped the same way it did decades ago when I read my first surrogate want ad: When wealthy people use poor people, usually poor women, to enhance their well being for money, it is so profoundly unethical as to preclude debate. Surrogacy uses a women as a vessel and disregards her worth as a being; hence, the rich and famous exulting "we had a baby" in televised press conferences when in fact they bought one.

    When medical procedures include poor women, especially poor third world women, the society needs to carefully examine itself. After all, why not just take a kidney? Or a heart? This issue is problematic and symptomatic. We need to revisit it often.

  147. Once any child becomes a commodity at any stage of their life, it is a result of society becoming so entwined in their self-righteous perversions, leading to a decadence means with no ends...

  148. Organ donation is area where individuals are truly being exploited, since it is illegal to sell organs so the trade is underground and in the hands of criminals. However, many a wealthy individual has paid for their kidney with little public outrage. But if women who cannot carry a child for medical reasons, or gay couples, work with a willing and informed gestational carrier, with all legal protections in place, there are "ethical" issues. Any time women's control over their reproduction is a issue, medical technologies are "unethical" and we should allow "nature" to rule. Birth control, abortion, ivf, surrogacy, you name it. I'm just glad women in the US still have the freedom to decide how they wish to use their bodies, since now even liberal commenters want to interfere with that liberty.

  149. There are definitely ethical issues over organ selling -- it is absolutely illegal in all states of the US and most foreign nations.

    It is not true that wealthy individuals all pay for kidneys without public outrage -- if any does that, they keep it pretty secret as it is a CRIME.

  150. The curremt issue of Pacific Standard has an interesting story about organ trafficking. Unfortunately it's not available on the Internet. But it does happen.
    Usually, according to Pacific Standard, when the kidney is transported it is still in the donor. At the destination for surgery, the spare part is removed from its original packaging and placed in the recipient, after which the original packaging is returned to its place of origin, plus a few bucks and minus one kidney.

  151. If the surrogate decides not to go through with the pregnancy and has an abortion, is she guilty of murder or of exercising her right to reproductive freedom?

  152. It's odd that you say that surrogacy is legal in "the United States", when in fact it is illegal in a lot of states. Which states permit it and which don't? If it is legal in California, does that have something to do with special interest group lobbying?

  153. I have children that I love more than anything and would not want to deny anyone the joy of parenthood but this doesn't pass the "ick" test.

    Everyone doesn't get everything they want - or even deserve. Except, if seems, if they have money.

    These babies are being bought and that's just wrong.

  154. Every object & every sentient being is a commodity in the U.S. All are for sale to the highest bidder.

  155. Nature has its way of controlling its own regeneration, at least, in the biological realm. Sterility and homosexual tendencies are some of the measures used to do so. Not every single human is designed to reproduce. It may also be, by choice for economic reasons.
    There are plenty of children who could be adopted . The Issue with this choice is that they are unwanted or are seriously damaged by their parents, as was the case with adopted children from orphanages in communist countries.
    The problem with surrogacy is that it involves financial transactions overt or covert. Buying and selling babies is no different from husbandry in farms. It is clearly unethical and unacceptable no matter how we slice it.

  156. "Sterility and homosexual tendencies are some of the measures used to do so."
    Don't forget impotence, which is remedied by drugs like Viagra.

  157. I was JUST thinking this same thought while reading the article. There is a reason why some people cannot have children (via homosexuality or sterility) and it is just the luck of the draw, but very, very necessary to ensure statis in the environment

  158. While a lot of people abuse Viagra and Cialis as "aphrodisiacs" like "spanish fly", in fact the typical user is over 60 and is impotent from illness like high blood pressure or diabetes. I doubt many of them are trying for a baby.

    If you were impotent, there are other more effective ways to gather sperm for IVF.

  159. There are millions and millions of orphans all around the world. What would be wrong with adoption, instead of this very costly, complex, morally lugubrious theme?

  160. Adoption typically gives you a child of poor parents, possibly risking disease or a badly managed pregnancy -- even exposure to drugs or alcohol in the womb. Or a family history that is rife with illness, crime, dropouts, failure.

    What rich parents want is a "mini-me" -- a little replica that is everything the parent likes about him or herself, but perfected -- better looking, stronger, smarter, more athletic. That is priceless, which is why two young men from Portugal apparently think nothing about spending close to a million dollars on 3 children, with no apparent concerns about money left to raise the kids to adulthood.

  161. Sounds like a wonderful scam to bypass immigration laws as well by people with financial resources. The child is born in the US therefore is an American citizen (btw we need to change this law pronto). Even though the article states that many bring their child back to the "parents" country the gift of American citizenship is an investment whioch can be cashed in later. These immigration scams need to be eliminated.

  162. Newsflash: people with financial resources can already bypass immigration laws. Their children can live and be educated anywhere they choose. Meanwhile American paranoia over immigration seems to know no bounds.

  163. I had to cringe when I read the caption below the photo, "They developed such a close relationship with the woman that she is now pregnant with their twins." Ugh!
    As a mother of a twingle myself (a singleton, then twins), I'd say that these folks don't have any idea of what they have signed up for. A twin pregnancy is much more difficult then the singleton (and leaves a lifelong legacy on the body), caring for three, is also exponentially more difficult then caring for one.
    The perspective of the surrogates, post carrying twins should be covered, as well as that of the childless couples eagerly awaiting a baby (or two). They both will have their lives changed, forever.

  164. Fear not, our august supreme court will ban this practice. For all but married straight, American, white heterosexuals, that is.

  165. Not one post here suggests this is OK for married, straight white heterosexuals, anymore than another group.

  166. I don't think I'm mistaken that when surrogacy first began in the US, the surrogate mothers were only legally allowed to be reimbursed for medical expenses, so there could be no profit motive. When did that change? It's troubling.

  167. "the market for children" how sad this phrase sounds, and the children have no voice in the matter at all

  168. Do surrogate children come with a warranty or 30-day return policy?

    To spend hundreds of thousands of dollars with the potential of costing more pending complications, how do advocates left of center view the issue of surrogacy with concerns of the unbalance of wealth distribution ?

    There was an article in the NY Times just the other day on the interpretation of the "US Constitution" if there is a "period" or not after the phrase "pursuit of happiness" is something I always thought the authors should have left completely out.

    If a person needs laws to find happiness, then one needs to really examine their life carefully.

  169. that was a good article about the Declaration of Independance.. it clarifies that 'happiness' was compromise language between "property" (supporting slavery) and "welfare" (used as code for opposing slavery).

    The purpose of police power of the states, is protecting the health, safety and welfare of the populace. I don't think, personally that the balance is toward allowing this procedure, because I am concerned about the welfare of the surrogates and egg donors.
    no one asked me, of course.

  170. Quite a few people who adopted children from Russia and Romania endedup surrendering those children, and at least one highly publicized case, the mother put the 7 year old boy (who was "unsatisfactory") back on a plane to Russia! That pretty much ended Russian/American adoptions.

    Wonder what will happen to a lot of these surrogate-born babies, down the line, should their selfish rich creators decide the baby turns out not to be "satisfactory" -- doesn't look like them, isn't smart or gorgeous, has no athletic skills or just plain bores them. Will they resent having spent $600K and up, pursuing the perfect mini-me?

  171. MD Cooks, you asked how "advocates left of center" view surrogacy. Just as the article does not disclose the political views of the surrogates or "parents" interviewed for this article, it is likely that "left of center" individuals are all over the map on this. However, I'll help to answer your question.

    I am way, way left of center, I also abhor surrogacy, and, as far as I know, none of my "left of center" friends champion surrogacy.

    Your comment about the US Constitution and the phrase "pursuit of happiness" is peculiar since the US Constitution does NOT contain this phrase. It is in the US Declaration of Independence from England which preceded the US constitution by 11 years.

  172. "Many countries ... abhor what they call the commercialization of baby making and view commercial surrogacy as inherently exploitive of poor women, noting that affluent women generally do not rent out their wombs." Affluent women also generally don't clean public restrooms for a living. Is everything the poor do to earn a living, voluntarily and using the resources they do have at their disposal for doing so, inherently exploitative, just because the more well-to-do scrunch up their faces and say, "Ugh, *I* wouldn't do that!"? If so, then we'd better stop thinking of the word "exploitative" as a pejorative, unless what we really mean is to end all this "exploitation" and decree that it's wrong to give the financially disadvantaged any opportunities at all.

  173. But why do you think that cleaning a restroom is inherently degrading? This is a thing that confuses me about the US. Compared to other industrialized democracies, we have barely regulated capitalism, a widespread culture of hatred and contempt for anyone who accepts public assistance, and very little safety net - yet nowhere else will you find such disdain for people doing an honest day's work. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people pass by flaggers or checkout workers with their children and say, "See, junior, that's why you go to college."

    It seems to me that these attitudes are linked. We regard manual and unskilled labor as a humiliating failure, undeserving of a living wage. Consequently, we also see less of a divide between the "degradation" of working at McDonalds and that of renting your womb.

  174. As usual, the US broadcasts our lack of human maturity and puts capitalism before all else - before the interests of the child. As an adoptee who has suffered the indignities of closed records laws, my stomach turns every time I hear of a new way to commodify birth. Anonymous donations of sperm and eggs should be out of the question and completely illegal. There are always enormous downsides to these kinds of experiments. What's to prevent predators or slave traders from manufacturing children for their own abuse? This is the one area that really gives me pause regarding same sex marriage, because it opens flood gates for what is not biologically possible in the natural order of creation.

  175. I appreciate your concern about slave traders and abuse but you lost me with this:

    "It opens the floodgates for what is not biologically possible in the natural order of creation."

    Are you talking about surrogacy ...or modern medicine?

  176. @Shawn: false equivalency. This is not life-saving medical care. This is creating NEW LIFE artificially, to appease selfish rich people. There is a huge difference there.

  177. I agree, but the "it's not natural" argument isn't sound for anyone who wants to enjoy anything else modern medicine has provided.

    Slow down. Don't assume.

  178. I don't like this one bit. It's extremely selfish of adults to do this to children. I have a cousin whose mother died young it's impacted her, for her entire life. I can only imagine the whole a child must feel not even knowing their mother or father.

    Despite what modern people say marriage was primarily about children and continuity not the selfish desires of adults.

  179. It seems to me very easy for people to go on a high horse, to say, "my experience" of having or longing for or adopting a child says this is wrong. It seems very easy to judge the unnamed mother, who stunned at discovering her much wanted baby would have a severe disability--a cleft in his brain--left the room in shock and disbelief.
    It's clearly easy to judge people wanting "the pick of the litter." Especially in an article like this one that only focuses on the extremes of the matter.

    I caution people against deciding on this issue without meeting people, as I have, who are middle of the road. I know someone who has been a surrogate--something I would never choose, but she loved being pregnant and the notion of helping someone else have a much wanted child. And one of my kids is friends with a child born of surrogacy, a teenager who, quite frankly, is one of the most mentally healthy kids I've ever met--with no concerns about who her "real" mother is, despite coming from egg donor, surrogate and mother. And despite going through puberty.

    The issues, folks, are complex. The rules may need to be tightened, but i shudder at the idea of Germany, who would have ruled my kid's friend out of existence, or at the folk here who would condemn the woman who choose to be a surrogate.

    I guess it's human to jump to harsh conclusions and then pat ourselves on the back that they are wisdom.

  180. Yes, it is easy to judge her. My sister is disabled from birth. I chose not to have children specifically so as not to risk passing on genes for this problem, the cause of which is as yet unknown and may never be known.
    My parents were told to institutionalise my sister. They didn't.
    You take the child you get. Yes, I find it very easy to judge that woman. And I also can't help wondering what 'Mom' and 'Dad' did with that child who is absent from their 'family's' Facebook page. And what their other kids think. I suspect they're straight A students, top athletes - because they've seen what happens to 'Mom' and 'Dad's' less than perfect offspring.

  181. Did she love being pregnant or love the fact that she was being paid to be pregnant?

  182. I doubt you really know the heart and mind of that teenager, who claims "no concerns" about her real mother. Likely she is afraid to talk about it, for fear of hurting her adoptive mother's feelings. She is keeping it buried inside. Most likely, it will surface when she wants to start her OWN family.

    You are naive not to think that adoptive parents who use surrogacy also use guilt and pressure to make sure the child -- as well as siblings, relatives, grandparents, etc. -- don't dare speak out the truth.

    Had your friend's child never existed, they would have adopted another child -- likely a waiting child in foster care. All of us can think (or perhaps fear to think!) about our own non-existence, but the truth is if our parents (our REAL biological parents who raised us) had had sex on a different night or a half hour earlier or later -- WE would not exist either.

  183. I strongly object to this practice. There are so many children in orphanages and foster care waiting for adoption. Just because we can do something doesn't mean that we should be creating babies for others we can afford to pay. This is breeding human beings and that is wrong on so many levels.

  184. Correction: ...for others who can afford...

  185. As an adoptive parent as well as the birth parent of two other children, we love our son deeply and vice versa. Surrogacy was never seen as better than adoption. At the same time, I am reading in some of these comments that adoption is equal to surrogacy. It is not.

    It is distinctly different and those differences -and adoptive parents' willingness to love an adopted child who may have innate differences from the adoptive parents depend on a realistic understanding and acceptance of that reality .

    Honesty is crucial. There is no point pursuing adoption if it is viewed as the "second best" or less desirable option. That does no favors to the adopted child. Our adoption agency has called us many times over the years, asking us if we would consider adopting a child where the parents had unrealistic expectations or could not accept the baby or child they adopted. Surrogacy might have been preferable, assuming the parents were able to handle parenting at all. Some people should never have children and are ill-equpped.

    Adoptive parents may often -as we willingly did- be able to accept and love a baby or child whose personality, interests, and aspirations may differ greatly from the parents. We were prepared for this. We wanted only to add a child, one who might not otherwise have a home, to our family. We considered ourselves lucky to have this opportunity.

  186. Even Huxley couldn't have predicted this, mainly because he failed to predict the growing income divide on this planet.

    Speaking of income, what do the women who serve as surrogates use in the profession blank on their income tax form?

    And what does Heather Rice, mother of three, tell her three children when "Mom" is no longer pregnant? Or for that matter, what does she tell them while she is pregnant? Or when she miscarried two times? Or when her "motherly instincts kicked in" and she started looking for someone to adopt the child she was carrying for "Mom" and "Dad"?

    I hope scientists are working night and day to find a way for men to get pregnant and give birth. I'm sure Paulo would have enjoyed the experience and there would be no citizenship problems.

  187. People should think of Paul Simon's song "The Mother and Child Reunion"... the lyrics a profound and everlasting...

    Listening to the song now brings tears to my eyes for a personal event occurring yesterday

  188. Perhaps we should envy that little kid. It doesn't have to fake the American dream no more.

  189. I consider myself a feminist though I'm not sure my opinions of this align with the feminist movement. Like prostitution, surrogacy is an exploitation of a woman's body, especially if money is involved. Period. Although I believe there are plenty of parents who are incredibly loving to their babies conceived by surrogacy, it seems that allowing it is reinforcing the already expanding financial divide in the world and in the US. The rich reproducing more and more while the poor babies suffer more and more. Not to even mention the genetic tinkering connected with surrogacy or in vitro fertilization. It's very sad that "liberals" can't see the big picture on this. Why not adopt - is the urge to raise a copy of yourself stronger than the desire to give someone a better a life?

  190. Remember that surrogacy is fairly recent and relatively few children so far, and too young for us to have heard THEIR stories....not unlike the adoptees of 50 years ago, now desperately trying to find their real parents.

    And in their push for surrogacy, there is a tendency to glamorize it, to use our love for babies and cute little things to make us go "awww...." and forget the reality -- like two very rich Portuguese men creating motherless children for their egos.

  191. Please check facts prior to posting a comment. "The poor" have more children per capita than "the rich".

  192. Lorena, there is no indication that it is only "liberals" who cannot see the flaws in allowing surrogacy. Your inclusion of a reference to "liberals" weakens and polarizes your thoughtful insights.

  193. Certainly this is not the first time humans have been bred for sale in the US. A few years ago I found a book published in 1913, Social Forces in American History by A. M. Simons, now my guide for understanding not only our history but our present. The book can be found on-line, though I hunted down an original copy.

    Listen to this part which describes conditions after the restrictions on foreign slave trade (remember there were restrictions on foreign slave trade not domestic slave production): . . . the South became divided into the "slave-using" and the "slave-breeding" states. Virginia and Maryland were the two great sources of the slave supply, from whence the "coffles" of slaves were gathered by the buyers to be shipped . . . further South. It was not profitable to keep slaves in the border states except for breeding purposes . . .

  194. In capitalist America, free market buys YOU!

  195. I find it fascinating that Germany bans surrogacy but has legalized prostitution.

  196. While I do not agree with full legalization of prostitution, there IS a difference -- the prostitute only involves her OWN body (and for sex -- not 9 months of pregnancy and labor and delivery). The surrogate also involves a helpless child and dooms that child to life without a biological mother to raise them.

  197. Simple. Because adults have free will, but an unborn child doesn't.

  198. Memory matters in Germany. After the Nazi ideology of the "perfect race" and the experiments Nazi doctors forced on people they deemed inferior, it makes complete sense that Germany would ban surrogacy. We can be grateful the technology was not available in the 1930s and 40s.

  199. chocking how we are manipulated
    specialy the surogat industry? crazy to talking about industry when Life is coming to the World.the law become bloind are missused many times
    and we do not Think about it Before too late.

  200. "No, I would not give you false hope. On this strange and mournful day. But the mother and child reunion. Is only a motion away. Oh, little darling of mine."

    These words by written by Paul Simon over 43 years ago still reverberate .....

  201. So I'm guessing that Jimmy Fallon didn't want to ruin his figure for career reasons? The 'social surrogacy' aspects of this are beyond vain and selfish. Why not avoid the long , uncomfortable pregnancy- it's so bothersome and not to forget unattractive too! Wouldn't want to inconvenience!

  202. I don't imagine that Jimmy Fallon was ever in danger of ruining his figure. But his wife would have, in image conscious Hollywood. But let's say they are genuinely infertile -- what a fantastic role model they could have been for adopting waiting American children in foster care!

    Quite a few Hollywood celebrities have gone this route (surrogacy), where it is much more clear that their concern is preserving a figure or maintaining a career. Some of them have been very public about it, and it's a matter of record.

  203. How strange. The United States has outsourced so many of our jobs overseas. Despite acre upon acre of beautiful farmland, we import vegetables instead of growing them ourselves. We've outsourced so much, even farming, that our people are struggling to earn a living, yet we allow people from overseas to come here to pay someone to have an egg implanted and bear a child for them because we still allow baby farming.

  204. of course it is exploitive of the women carrying the child. why is the woman paid so little for carrying a child and childbirth, and everyone else so much for what amounts to a few hours work each? The woman is the only one with any risk in the whole thing,and market rates do not show her values at all. this thing where the parents act like she is a part of the family for a short while also makes me uncomfortable..

    Besides, I had three kids and I cannot understand at all how a woman would love being pregnant but not want a baby. for me it was the other way around, big time. the price I paid, but not fun.

  205. PRECISELY. The lawyer gets $10,000 for a few hours of work (if that). The surrogate mother gets $10K or LESS, often as little as $7000-$8000, to loan her entire body out and risk her health and future fertility and go through the agony of labor and delivery -- for an amount of money that will not net her a decent used car.

  206. The egg donors, who are not even mentioned in this article, are treated even worse by the fertility industry. Pumped full of chemicals, then dumped after being harvested, often to face the medical consequences alone.

    But it is ridiculous to expect that affluent gay couples would give a second thought to the bodies of women.

  207. Surrogacy is complicated in all respects,especially for the woman,who lends her womb for the purpose.It's extremely difficult for her to part with the baby whatever may be the compensation since she has to not only risk her life but also bear the pain for months together.

    What if a perfectly alright woman wants to go in for surrogacy in the name of maintaining a perfect body and then what would be the legal and other implications.

    There are many high society and upper middle class ladies in this world,who don't give breast milk to their babies thinking that their beauty gets spoiled forever if they do so,crazy but true.

  208. Congratulations for finding a way to blame women for the highly misogynistic trend of surrogate pregnancy.

  209. "The Hand Maid's Tale." I had so hoped it was fiction.

  210. 6 per cent of the world's children have no parents, and this number has remained relatively static over time, and yet rather than pursue the adoption of one of these children desperately in need of rescue, wealthy and connected couples hire a surrogate to produce a pure-bred baby using their own gene pool. America is the World's Puppy Mill -- only it isn't puppies. The business of surrogacy should be terminated. Rescue an unwanted child instead.

  211. Puppy mills are ugly too. Even worse. At least the human birth mothers here are volunteers and they aren't kept in filthy cages and killed when they're worn out. Though who knows what the future may bring.

  212. It's not your place to decide what kind of child someone else wants.

  213. They are not volunteers. They enter into a contract and if the terms are not met, they don't participate. Or the other side doesn't. You are overlooking the woman who gave birth to the baby with the cleft in his brain. That couple at first wanted her to abort the baby. The point is that exploitation is at the root of all this. As someone else pointed out, its not upper class women who are doing it.

  214. with the amount of children in need of a good home in most countries, it is wrong for any couple to not go the adoption route and all it painstaking hurdles first.

  215. What is the total actual cost to the American taxpayer?

    Even if foreign couples put up 150K, we are still subsidizing them indirectly.

  216. Any cost to the taxpayer would be incidental to pregnancy and childbirth, and not related to surrogacy, specifically.

  217. Where is the lifetime care provision for the birth mother or child if something goes seriously wrong?

  218. Einstein: 'Where is the lifetime care provision for the birth mother or child if something goes seriously wrong?'

    As the story of Heather Rice makes clear, there isn't any.

  219. Once we begin to monetize s natural process such as child birth we will interject greed and evil into something sacred. For those who may prostitute their womb so another couple can have a child raises all type of moral questions. To have and to raise children is a sacred and fundamental right but let's not do it by circumventing another country's law.

  220. I can't believe you used the word "prostitution". How offensive and demeaning to the very generous women who have given of themselves so that others can create a loving family.

  221. I don't get the difference between surrogacy and adoption. Both use an egg, a sperm and the uterus of a woman who will not raise the child. In both transactions, money usually changes hands. Sometimes the woman carrying the baby is sad about giving the child away; sometimes not. Sometimes the birth mother feels she is helping a couple that cannot have a child of their own; sometimes she doesn't care. Sometimes the birth mother and the legal parents have a relationship after the birth; sometimes not. Adoption has been an accepted practice for years. Why should surrogacy also not be acceptable? Either way, in the overwhelming majority of cases the child ends up with parents who love it. Seems like that's the point of both methods.

  222. Because surrogacy is selling babies. That is called slavery. It turn a child into a product to be purchased on the open market and it turns women into breeder animals. The point is not what adults want but what children need.

  223. Two differences: 1. Adoption serves the needs of a pre-existing child. It was not created by its mother to be sold. Eggs bought from a catalog and then fertilized and implanted in another womb constitute the purchase of half a person to create a child for your own benefit, a child that will have no contact with its natural family.
    2. In adoption, the adoptive parents are equally unrelated (and therefore equally related) to the child. With dad's sperm and an unknown woman's egg, you are handing a woman who has gone through the stress of infertility, a child who is her husband's by another, more fertile, woman. I personally know of one case of complete, utter rejection of the baby by "mom". It is currently being raised by three nannies. I did some research and found that this is not as rare as one would wish. Biological ties matter. Our brains are wired to protect OUR children, more so than our neighbors', no matter how nice they are. (Who would you save first in a fire, honestly?)

  224. Because through adoption, that baby or child already exists. In surrogacy, you are manufacturing a baby, literally. And then you have to rent out a body part for 9 months. You, have in essence, gone to great lengths to contribute to overpopulation, while directly and intentionally exploiting another human being for your whims and desires. In adoption, another couple created a baby, accidentally or under circumstances where it would be best for the child to be raised elsewhere. You did not custom order that child.

  225. After several years and rounds of fertility treatment, and some medical issues that prevent my wife from carrying a child, we are working with a surrogate in NC. She and her husband have 2 children of their own, and she has been a surrogate twice for a same-sex couple in France. The decision to be a surrogate is one that she made on her own, is supported by her husband, and is not anything that has been coerced or forced upon her.

    As a lawyer, I can appreciate the ethical concerns and potential for abuse in this largely unregulated practice. But the seriousness of purpose of everyone involved in our surrogacy experience has been impressive.

    Surrogacy has meant that my wife and I will have children that are biologically, genetically ours, even though she is unable to carry them for medical reasons. These children are wanted, intended, loved. Until you've walked in our shoes, you really cannot understand this.

  226. Why is it so important the children be 'biologically, genetically' yours?
    Thought experiment - not terribly far-fetched, as it happens quite frequently.
    Say your wife were, in fact, able to conceive and carry to term. After months of trying, you have a child. When the child turns 18, his mother, stammeringly, gives him a gift - the truth about his birth. His father is the next-door neighbour, conceived one lonely night when you were away on a three-day business trip, he came over, and they got drunk.
    Is this son different in your eyes now, after 18 years, because you discover he's not 'biologically, genetically' yours after all? Is he any les 'wanted, intended, loved' for it?
    Suppose the hospital contacts you 10 years from now and tells you they gave you the wrong baby (yes, it happens)? Suppose the wrong sperm was used to inseminate and blood tests establish the child can't possibly be 'biologically, genetically' yours?
    What then, sir? How contingent is your love? Contra the cliche, all love is conditional. What are your minimum conditions?

  227. If they are biologically yours, both egg and sperm, then I personally think surrogacy is a fine thing, and very distinct from the surrogacy involving three women - egg supplier, womb supplier and baby buyer.

  228. You are not 'working with' this woman. You are buying the use of her body.
    As a lawyer you might think about whether saying everyone is "serious" really has any meaning in this context, (or what?) especially considering how much cash is changing hands.

    I understand you have been chewed up by the IVF industry and spit out the other side without a child and that is too bad. I sympathize. However not everyone gets everything they want in life, and there is a time to accept that. Again with a bit of sympathy, but a lot more for that poor woman practicing repeat surrogacy. She is on child number 5! My god!

  229. Such displays of ego are truly galling.

    Adopt a child. Thousands of children are waiting for a good home. Why neglect one of these by spending a fortune on surrogacy just to satisfy an ego.?

  230. It's not just, or even mainly, about ego. It's about wanting a baby to join your family. One that carries your DNA will probably share enough of your personality to fit in and connect with you well and bring happiness all around. This is much less likely with an adopted child. Children are unique individuals, not fungible commodities.

  231. Please specify the research by which you arrived at your "facts".

    Have you never met a dysfunctional family where all are related?

  232. Your point makes sense if surrogacy is limited to a rented womb, but your argument does not hold if a donated egg is used. Children are typically a blend of their bio parents but sometimes the personality and physical resemblance of one parent is dominant. If a donated egg is used, and the egg donor's genes are dominant, how does the child share enough of the infertile couple's personality to fit in and connect?

  233. I know that many people who undergo various fertility treatments state that adoption is actually a more expensive, time consuming and emotionally harrowing process than the treatments; however, after reading this article, I do not believe that adoption would have been more difficult or expensive in these international cases. Even more so here because the parents are men and have no biological drive to carry and give birth to a baby.

    It boils down to the very self centered desire that some people have to reproduce themselves with their own genetic material. I am sure that there is an evolutionary reason for this desire, but the reality is that we are at 7 billion people and counting and so many children are born each day that are not wanted. Anyone actively assisting in this surrogacy process needs to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask if they are part of the problem or part of the solution.

  234. I agree that overpopulation is a huge problem in this world. But in my opinion, parents undergoing infertility treatments is not the problem. What about all the families in this world who voluntarily have 3,4,5 or even 19 kids naturally? The desire to have a genetic offspring is a deep one. I don't see a problem with someone using fertility treatments/surrogacy to have a child when fertile couples have no restrictions on the number of children that they can have. Maybe we should limit families to one genetic child and then require that any future children be adopted!?! It is easy to say that people should adopt a child, but there are plenty of complications with adoption - lack of prenatal care, drug & alcohol use, genetic diseases etc. which can lead to problems that are not evident at a young age. At least with surrogacy, a parent has some control over the genetics and prenatal care of the pregnancy. I agree with other posters that until you have walked in the shoes of an infertile couple, you shouldn't judge their decisions.

  235. 1 of 2

    My wife and I used a gestational surrogate (our DNA, her womb) following a live-saving bout with cancer that resulted in my wife not being able to carry a child.

    We looked at adoption but ruled it out because the cost, complexity and risk were at least as high as surrogacy. My wife also had a desire to have a baby that was part of each of us.

    We used a reputable agency in the NW. The surrogate was married, had her own children, enjoyed being pregnant, and wanted to help others grow a family. The money didn't hurt but it didn't seem like it was the primary driver. This was the case for all of the women we met.

    It was expensive but most of the cost was associated with the assisted fertility services and other service providers (insurance, legal, etc). It is also complicated and there is a lot of risk for all parties. We all had to agree what types of tests to undergo and how to handle various challenging scenarios. You don't do this to get rich or get quick citizenship.

    In the end it worked out for all parties. The pregnancy was "easy" (her words) and there were no complications during or after delivery. We have a healthy 3 YO girl. We aren't friends but we stay in occasional contact with her (holiday cards, etc). At some point we'll explain this to our daughter.

    See 2 of 2

  236. This is the good kind of surrogacy: a baby is being raised by her natural parents, who hired someone to help with the heavy lifting of birth. Congratulations!

  237. From the child's perspective, how would it feel growing up knowing that you we sold before you were born? That you were the result of a financial transaction transaction?

    In most countries it is illegal to "buy" a baby that was already born -- you can adopt one, but not buy it. But lo and behold, you can legally buy a baby in USA before it is born! Awesomely convenient, not?

    I think its just human trafficking, even if legal, ethically wrong, and deeply unfair to the child to grow up as a product of a financial transaction.

  238. From the perspective of a perhaps poor single mother who is coerced to relinquish a child so the child can have a so-called better life with a more moneyed family, adoption is human trafficking - theft, heartbreak and human trafficking.

  239. Agreed, even if it happens to turn out that the child grows up "ok." It is buying a baby and an attempt (successful so far) to do a run around a clearly illegal practice. No one considers the rights of the children in all this? Do you think this child will know where its "egg" came from? Who is on the birth certificate?

  240. Actually the financial aspect isn't that dissimilar from adoption. During the adoption proccess, you are are required to pay upwards of tens of thousands of dollar to the people who are needed to facilitate the adoption of a baby (including the common practice of paying for the birth mother's "expenses"). Likewise, in third party reproduction, you are paying for the people who facilitate the birth of a baby. And it's still not legal to "buy" a baby. Spending the money doesn't in any way guarantee that the process will be successful. I'm sure this comment will be unpopular, but oh well. Food for thought.

  241. Dear NYTimes, I must protest the title of this article, which I noticed on the front page of the website: "Coming to U.S. for Baby, and a Womb", and the slightly changed version on the article page, "Coming to U.S. for Baby, and Womb to Carry It". As I mentioned in a previous comment, women are not just convenient gestation containers, no matter how the surrogacy industry might wish it so. Women are not just their wombs and their wombs cannot be disembodied from the rest of their bodies and minds. Please do not contribute to the disembodiment and commodification of women's bodies and the organs within those bodies by using the titles you have chosen for this article.

  242. The headline adequately represents the attitudes of the people participating in this activity, unfortunately.

  243. odd that so many seem eager to substitute their personal experience and judgment for that of others. I blame social media for making us so darn opinionated on everything. a nation of nudges.

  244. Feminism and its double standards never ceases to amaze me.

    Feminists do not say a word about sperm donation: every women, straight or gay, as the right to be a mother.

    Feminists object to body renting: not every man, straight or gay, has the right to be a father.

    So raise the specter of "The Hand Maid's Tale," and ignore the legions of women who rented sperm.

    I only wish that gay men eventually recognize that feminists do not support them. Other men, the Men's Rights Movements, are their allies.

  245. Gee wiz. Regardless of politics, the 5 minute act of donating sperm is NOT the same as having another human being grow inside your body for 9 months, with all the health risks that entails. However, it seems you are pushing a specific agenda, so I'd guess you're immune to logic.

  246. Those of us in the GLBT community realize at an early age that we will not partner with a member of the opposite sex. So in its simplest example, we would consider adopting at an orphanage with babies who share our ethnicity. Furthermore, only an affluent same-sex couple could afford surrogacy. This gay couple also admits to an amount of secrecy, which may be naïve.

  247. Amen to Prof. Lippman. Boy oh boy do we here in "make a buck land" gloss over important issues. We do indeed treat working class women as commodities. If you think that's not true, identify an affluent woman or even upper middle class who rents out her womb. None.
    This is another example of the rest of the world getting it right, and we, with our "me, me, me" attitude, and "how dare you tell me I can't", getting it wrong.

  248. This is disgusting. What's next on the politically correct agenda of liberals and wackos worldwide?

  249. If you read the comments you'll see that a lot of liberals, of all sexual orientations, have very real problems with this. And that some conservatives don't. It doesn't boil down to left vs right as easily as you might like to think.

  250. If you read the comments you'll find lots of liberals have problems with this. It doesn't divide neatly into left and right.

  251. Paul, nothing in this article suggests that having a baby by surrogacy is something only "liberals" do.

    I speak with authority because I am about as "liberal" as one can get. I also find paid surrogacy deeply troubling.

    That individuals from foreign countries who have not attained US citizenship can simply pay to obtain a child with US citizenship because of birth in the US to a surrogate is deeply troubling. Doing so to enhance the possibility of the child being able to attend a US university or the parents’ chances of emigrating to the US is deeply troubling.

    We are all very aware that worldwide there are hundreds of thousands of children who need loving homes. Paying tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire a designer manufactured child carried and birthed by someone who will not be his/her parents strikes me as hubris and very self-centered, be it gay couple or heterosexual couples where regular childbirth is not possible, or people who don't want to deal with the burden of pregnancy and childbirth and its potential downside for employment.

    Surrogacy also provides a significant risk that a child is being acquired for the purpose of exploitation, including sexual exploitation, and/or may end up in the hands of dangerous abusive "parents."

    The US should follow the model of Germany and Portugal and ban surrogacy altogether. There are much, much better ways to spend financial and emotional resources than surrogacy.

  252. The baby business in the U.S. is deeply disturbing to me. Not just with regards to surrogacy, but also the millions spent on fertility treatments. There are millions of children in the world already with no family. This obsession yuppies have (and this is entirely an upper middle class phenomenon) with the promulgation of their genes (or at least, part of their genes) is incredibly narcissistic.

    I understand wanting to be a parent, but in this day and age, parenthood should be more than just the satisfaction of a biological urge (or a keeping up with the Joneses since it is now trendy to have kids). Bringing a child into this world today is an ethical issue. There is every indication that these kids will not have the economic opportunities of their parents, and more importantly. the environment will continue to be an ever increasing problem - that these kids will have to contend with this in very real ways is a known fact. I wonder how many people who decide to have children ever think about what kind of world their kids will be inheriting.

    On the surface this upper middle class baby boom seems to be all about the "need" to have a child, but I think there is something far deeper (and sadder) really going on here. Sadly, it will be their children who have to deal with the messy ethics of their parents' selfishness.

  253. In spite of not having a genetically perfect match, those who cannot have their own baby should adopt one who needs a home. People adapt. Genes are not all.
    Life in an orphanage is sub-optimal no matter how much effort is made to make it good. It's selfish and narcissistic to have a surrogate baby when thousands of children here right now are languishing. I understand the sentiment, but it should not trump reality or forget the needs of the planet we are living on, nor the the needs of its children.

  254. For anyone who is interested in the origins of gestational surrogacy, I suggest you read about Anna Johnson, a gestational surrogate in California, who filed a lawsuit to be granted visitation rights with the child she bore and lost her case in 1990. It was Anna Johnson's case that sparked my interest in surrogacy and led to my writing about it for my dissertation. Here is a link to a NYTimes article about the legal decision:

    And here is a link to Ellen Goodman's column after the decision. The issues she raised then remain relevant today:

    Googling "Anna Johnson surrogacy case" will provide lots more background for anyone who is interested.

  255. The practice described in this article strikes me as being too close to animal husbandry. The definition of animal husbandry is: The branch of agriculture concerned with the care and breeding of domestic animals such as cattle, hogs, sheep, and horses.

  256. “We regard surrogacy as exploitation of women and their reproductive capacities,” Dr. Schneider said. “In our view, the bonding process between a mother and her child starts earlier than at the moment of giving birth. It is an ongoing process during pregnancy itself, in which an intense relationship is being built between a woman and her child-to-be. These bonds are essential for creating the grounds for a successful parenthood, and in our view, they protect both the mother and the child.”

    This is the most specious argument, which is actually an argument against adoption. Anyone can immediately see its falsity: Adopted children and adoptive parents don't have that "essential" bond for creating "successful parenthood," and of course the birth mother and child aren't "protected."

    And yet adopted children usually turn out just fine, parent-child bonds are strong and successful. Studies have proved this repeatedly - in fact in one major study, adopted teens surpassed non-adopted teens in connectedness, caring, social competency, school achievement, optimism and parental support. More often than not, the results for adoptive child and parents are far better than they would have been with the birth parent(s) - who after all gave the child up for adoption for any number of reasons.

    If the issue of parenthood is addressed at the proper time with proper sensitivity, and above all honesty, the adopted child can adapt easily to his or her reality.

    So much for German common sense.

  257. Surrogacy is exploitation of other women's bodies all too often. That is the point. Why else pay for it? Why else sell it?

  258. About the adoptions that many rather self-righteous commenters keep suggesting the infertile should prefer to having children with their specific genetic makeup:
    Post Roe and post pill, nice girls don't have "oops" babies and when they do, they either abort them or raise them themselves. The adoptable children out there are often the offspring of seriously messed up people, mothers who were a. incapable of using birth control reliably and/or b. incapable of caring for the child adequately despite the best efforts of social services.

    The part of this whole issue that is being studiously ignored in the discussion but that is driving the behavior of would-be parents on the ground is that great unmentionable: children resemble their parents in much more than looks - personality, intelligence, sense of humor, athleticism, musical talent, psychopathology, vulnerability to addiction, etc. all have a strong genetic component. For the "adopt" option, a "good case scenario" is adopting a 2 yo boy whose mom (raised by aunt and uncle b/c her mom didn't want her) doesn't actually want him at all - she's only interested in her incarcerated boyfriend (baby's father). As a charitable project, adopting this child is a wonderful idea, but if what you want is a loving and lovable member of the family, he's unlikely to work out very well. Both mom and grandmom are psychologically incapable of love (I know the family) and dad is a street thug. The genetics are against it.

  259. Hung up on the genetics roulette wheel? How about the fact that the same sex surrogacy couples have to "use" someone else's genetic "material." What about the yearning of the child to learn of his or her's own background? Its interesting that it is not legal there, but it is here. Family values, indeed.

  260. If you don't think it's possible for a child born in less than ideal circumstances to become a happy and well-adjusted member of a family, then you must not know any adopted children. I do.

  261. Oh, it's certainly possible, and in fact it often happens. It just has a much higher risk of catastrophic failure (rad, serious mental illness, etc) as well as more mundane issues of just having a poor fit between parent and child, which can lead to misery for both.

  262. The judgement here astonishes me. It's so easy for people who have kids or don't want them to sit there and say how wrong all of this is, but what right do you have to deny others the child(ren) they want? The couples portrayed in this article seem like amazing parents - more power to them. Whose business is it how they choose to spend their money? I personally think it's ridiculous that people spend a ton of money on expensive cars or boats, etc., but that's not my business. Neither is this.

    I am someone who is pursuing a child through IVF treatment, but because of cancer stealing the last 6 years of my life, I may at some point have to contemplate going the donor egg route. That's MY business, to decide if I can live with that.

    And for those people saying "just adopt"? Right. Not only is this an also expensive and time-consuming process, but - as someone who's heard this as well from friends - I have as much right to want a biological child as anyone else. As do the couples here. Plus, often the only kids available for adoption are older with severe emotional issues - so the people simultaneously telling me "babies are so hard to deal with as a single parent!" AND "you should just adopt" make no sense whatsoever.

    I have fellow Cancerchick friends who have become parents through surrogacy, and this is something that the surrogates CHOSE to do. People who don't find themselves in the position of having to make these tough decisions should just keep their noses out of it.

  263. The purchasers of the child may have the power to force their surrogate to have a late-term abortion if the baby is not perfect and healthy.
    We are told that "no court would force a woman to have an abortion." Yet a surrogate "who proceeded to carry a baby to term against the intended parents’ wishes, could perhaps be made to pay the costs of rearing the child, under the legal concept of wrongful birth."
    The fact that she would be forced to take on this enormous financial burden is tantamount to "forcing" her to comply with the purchaser's demand that she abort the baby. Is allowing women to be legal coerced in to aborting at close to six months really a road we want to go down?

  264. The coercive power of money is well understood among people doing federally-regulated human subjects research, and I think that power demands consideration here, both in the initial agreement (gaining money) and in the pressure to terminate "or else" (losing it).

  265. I am in IVF nurse with experience working in clinics in California and New England. As I continue to work and donor egg and surrogacy becomes more and more common, I find myself turning against it. Creating a child with no biological connections in the world- no way to discover its genetic connections (donor egg, sperm donor) or biological mothers (surrogates) is ethically wrong. I see many questionable people creating babies that float off into the world, with no social worker following them. They just disappear.

    Another poster nailed this one- babies aren't chattel. You should not be able to create other people's children with money. I can cry thinking about where these babies will find themselves, babies that should never have been created. Unfortunately there is no way to stop it- yet. Doctors can get very rich in the field of reproductive medicine, and since there are no laws against this, they move forward with whomever can pay.

    Egg donors are sometimes the sisters and cousins of the infertile woman, and this is the only way I can agree with egg donation. i am against anonymous egg donation. These young girls who donate their eggs for the measly 6K have no idea what they are giving up, and who they are giving it to. They believe they are helping infertile couples of means, but basically anyone can get donor eggs- including pedophiles etc- I think it's only a matter of time before children are created for a nefarious purpose. I'm not sure how to stop this.

  266. A pedophile with enough money to go the donor egg/surrogacy route can CERTAINLY manage to find a young woman looking for a sugar daddy who'll be more than happy to bear his child. But because of this odd scenario you've laid out, whereby people will go a much more convoluted and complicated route to get a child (have you heard of kids being handed over on Craigslist and such? Yes this already happens), you want to deny loving people the chance to have a child. I shake my head.

    Personally, I think that IVF/surrogacy is SO expensive that those pursuing it are REALLY sure they want a child. As opposed to so many women out there who pump out kid after kid with no thought on how they'll actually take care of them.

  267. Well - first you need to consider stopping marriage for wealth. You need to think about "jumping over the broom" and all such traditions in which the man buys a wife. Start with the traditions surrounding marriage - which has been the time tested way of having babies, many of whom are not wanted. And make every
    marriage a wanted marriage - and if the people in the marriage want each other then they should have a baby, but only after they've taken courses on how to raise babies.

  268. Children have no rights. And we bring them into a hostile world oriented around the wishes of adults.

    Aborting them is about preserving a woman's right to control her sex organs (like someone took that away).

  269. Does the politically loaded phrase "kill the fetus" really pass muster with the house style at the NY Times? If the phrase came from the mouth of the person being interviewed, it should be attributed as such. As written, it seems to express the political/moral opinion of the journalist who wrote the story.

  270. In my attempt to understand my own feelings about the ethics of surrogacy, I have to ask myself how much of a difference it would make if there was a technological version of surrogacy (as surely there will be some day) in which a baby could gestate outside a woman's womb. That is, if you take the human surrogate out of the process, does that solve the ethical dilemma of exploitation and commodification? Or do thorny ethical questions remain?

  271. "... the market for children..." expresses it all.

  272. Babies as merchandise. Pick of the litter. Forced adoptions. Babies for profit. Freezing of embryos. Abortions. Unknown mothers. The Me culture. Enough said.

  273. If either of two men want to have a baby, they should marry a woman and have one.

  274. Beyond the many reservations expressed in comments about the willful ignorance of a child's need to understand a biological connection, there's also this politically correct notion that the natural mixture of both masculine- and feminine-principle in healthy human development means nothing, and that it's okay to plan these kinds of parental birth defects in the long-term raising process.

    Let's stop pretending this is okay, it is not. This is a sickness that society is being insidiously led to believe is all right.

  275. There have been some social science "studies" that purportedly show that children raised in households with same sex parents are "no worse off" than children raised by heterosexual couples. Most of these were probably focused on two mother families and not two father families.

    I had a gay 5th grade teacher, who was a wonderful, community dedicated man. He did more for the town in which I grew up in than practically anybody. By all appearances, a model citizen.

    Yet, I still have reservations about two men raising a child. It has nothing to do with their good intent, but with the simple fact of a child being exposed to gender interaction, which I think is healthy. Same sex relationships have a different dynamic that will not help a child grow into a healthy heterosexual adult.

    I think two women probably could do a better job, up to at least a certain age. Fathers provide a platform of stability for children and help them learn to cope with authority.

    They need both.

  276. Pro-choice, which I am, means that women have control over their bodies whether liberals or conservatives like it or not. As long as no one is forcing a woman to become a surrogate, the choice is theirs and theirs alone.

  277. It ought to be an adult woman's prerogative to utilize her body as she sees fit. The conventional fear of women's sexuality bears heavily in seeing a woman as a commodity when she chooses to use her womb as a money-making enterprise.

  278. Actually, it is exactly the opposite. What is feared is women using their sexuality for anything *other than* reproduction. Surrogacy plays very nicely into ideas about keeping women's sexuality confined and "safe".

  279. The reproduction you note is that between a woman and her husband, under the conventional confines of marriage. That is 'safe' reproduction, a 'safe' use of a woman's sexuality and body. Surrogacy, on the other hand, is by no means viewed as conventional, IE: chaste, and 'safe.' Rather, it is a threat to conventional thinking: specifically, the conventional viewpoint of how a woman's sexuality must be defined, contained and, most of all, anyone but the woman.

  280. Is this part and parcel to when the recent Supreme Court decision was about by denying women contraception coverage and yet at the same time, allowing couples to rent women's uteruses? Deplorable! There is no justice for women in this country.

  281. No, the simple question is, "who pays for it." You're free to do what you please, as long as you don't make it someone else's burden by making others pay for it. What is so difficult to understand about that?

  282. Gosh it's such a burden to make employers pay employees in exchange for their labor, eh, Hooey?

  283. Is this, coincidentally, yet another gambit to acquire U.S. citizenship for one's child, and then U.S. citizenship for the parents? And then U.S. social services, including Medicare, for all concerned when they need it and their current country does not provide it? The middle-class U.S. taxpayer foots the bill yet one more time.

  284. It has that appearance. I know extremely wealthy people from outside the US, especially from various unstable countries, who come to the US to have their children. The recent offshore voluntary disclosure program, FATCA, foreign bank account reporting may have put a damper on that, however.

  285. Hah. If they're coming from a European nation, they have little reason to have an interest in the US's attempts at a national healthcare system or welfare.

  286. hi, N from way out west.
    I am N from Michigan and have also been mouthing off in this conversation. I am not sure we agree on stuff. I do think that surrogacy is such an upscale process that people seeking children would not be doing it to get social services,or even citizenship, but who knows?
    Not so the surrogate mother of course. If repeated pregnancies cause health problems that would be our problem.

  287. Only poor ladies agree to be surrogate mothers since they are badly in need of money. The parents,who want to have a baby by this means don't happen to know the other lady directly. So,they contact some agency for this purpose. The agency arranges the deal and gets larger part of the cake as bargain. The poor lady has no voice in most off the cases other than to receive whatever money is handed over to her,which is generally on the higher side based on her living standard ,so she is left with no choice but to accept. Big bucks go to the doctor,who is in the centre of this particular deal.

    There's no way,these upper middle class and rich people can speak to the poor lady directly because there's generally language and other barriers that prevent them doing so.

    I read somewhere that Poor ladies in India are paid up to $1000.00 for this purpose.

    As long as all the parties involved are happy and devoid of other headaches including legal complications,given the I couples choice,it should be nice that ends well.

    I wholeheartedly support other readers,who still think why end up in all round mess instead of going for adoption.

  288. Wow.....that was my first reaction. I have no problem with same sex parents raising children but I do have a problem with any couple same sex or not using a women as a baby maker. Sorry perhaps that seems harsh but women are now allowing themselves to be treated like baby making machines rather than mothers and human beings. Children are not accessories to the good life they are human beings. This whole process seems wrong and I believe it is. it is unfair to the child and or children--pick of the litter indeed--and it is bad for the women involved and for women in general.

    There are plenty of children in the world who need homes. If you desire that connection and want to give love. They are waiting.

  289. Ah, the American baby industry--which exists to serve the desires of would-be parents, not the infants and their mothers. One day we will look upon surrogacy and most infant adoption (other than in cases of genuine need, which are truly not all that common) as we do on slavery now. It is sad that some people who wish they could be parents cannot do so. But we should not have the right to commandeer the lives and bodies of others to fulfill our own wishes.

  290. You can make the same comments about the "pro choice" arguments.

    "Choice" versus "life" has never been the parity argument surrounding abortion, and it is why people oppose abortion while still choosing to allow birth control.

    The just aren't nuts enough to make it about "controlling a uterus".

  291. Germany has the correct approach to this, which is to not allow it.

  292. Helping people have their children through assisted reproduction and surrogacy is incredibly rewarding. The children born to these loving and deserving parents will surely be taken care of and parented in ways that will provide these children to have opportunities and stability and to become wonderful loving and productive citizens in our society. Those who frown on surrogacy don't understand it and should take the time to learn about it before expressing negative and unproductive opinions. We at Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists LLC help people have their children through surrogacy by taking great care in managing the legal issues and partnering with clinics that take great care in managing the medical issues. All parties including surrogates, their families, and intended parents are treated with great care and respect

  293. "We at Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists LLC..." That pretty much says it all for me.