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IVF News - Experts attack 'fertility tourism' industry

Posted Sep 27 2009 10:21pm
IVF News - Experts attack 'fertility tourism' industry: "British couples travelling abroad to take advantage of commercial surrogate arrangements are engaging in a form of 'exploitation', Professor Naomi Pfeffer, an expert in the ethics and regulation of controversial developments in medicine, said at a fertility meeting this week.

Speaking at the 'Motherhood in the 21st Century' conference at University College London on Friday, she said: 'The exchange relationship is analogous to that of a client and a prostitute. It's a unique situation because it's the only instance in which a woman exploits another woman's body.'"

This is a typical worldview of an "expert" from the UK. Just because these women are poor does not mean they are stupid. If the surrogate offered to do this for free, I guess Prof Pfeffer would have no objections. Her only objection seems to be that money is changing hands, and this is what "contaminates" the transaction . I cannot agree with this viewpoint. Yes, the women are poor, but they are street smart enough to survive in Indian urban slums . They live in circumstances in which women like Prof Pfeffer would not be able to survive for even 2 days ! Does being poor mean they need to be protected by experts from the UK ?

I am very disappointed by this lack of empathy . I wish these experts would talk to the surrogate to understand their point of view, rather than make such sweeping and unkind generalisations.

Let's look at a typical surrogate's story. She is poor; lives in a slum; has two children; and a husband who works, but cannot make ends meet. She can continue eking out a life of quiet desperation, and because she is not educated , can never exit this hellish life. One way out of this trap is to earn some money by being a surrogate. Not only does this earn her family some money which may allow her to get a better education for her children, it also ensures her some rest and pampering during her pregnancy. Is she being stupid by agreeing to opt for this ? The fact that so many women clamour to become surrogates - and that it's usually one surrogate who then brings lots of her friends as well , suggests that the surrogates are quite comfortable with this arrangement.

I agree surrogates can be exploited. But this is true of any transaction. Isn't it better to implement regulations and guidelines to protect them ? This is a constructive approach - rather than the "holier-than-thou" sanctimonious approach taken by experts who claim to speak for these women in order to protect them !

Why can't we trust poor women to make the right decisions for themselves ? Does the fact they are poor means that they need "protection from exploitation" or that they need Western experts to speak for them ? Just because they don't have a voice, can experts claim to speak on their behalf just because they are articulate and educated ?
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