Debunking the Myth that are Surrogates easily exploited for Money or NOT?
This is potentially the most insidious of all the myths surrounding commercial surrogacy because it evokes moral outrage against intended parents and proponents of surrogacy from a place of misinformation.
Many who oppose surrogacy erroneously believe only women who are in poverty or desperate for money would ever consider becoming a surrogate and that they do so reluctantly with no other viable options.
They envision women in dire circumstances such as single mothers, unhoused women, or women in abusive relationships as the only people who would consider surrogacy. They believe women are coerced into carrying for elite, wealthy strangers.
The problem with this view is that legally speaking in the US, there are many safeguards to prevent the exploitation of surrogate women. Namely that:
Surrogates must prove they are financially stable and in a safe, supportive environment. They must show reliable income such as from paychecks, a business, investments, an inheritance, or from their spouse. They must have permanent safe housing and a supportive network nearby e.g. a spouse or family members.
In addition, they must consent to all aspects of surrogacy including making all of their own health and welfare decisions during pregnancy. This includes how many embryos they are willing to transfer or carry. They alone ultimately decide if they wish to continue or terminate a pregnancy.
Surrogates are also legally required to be represented by an attorney that the intended parents pay for, but that the surrogate alone selects to represent her. This attorney cannot in any way represent the intended parents or defer to their interests.
Surrogates have contracts which stipulate their terms, including their compensation requirements and how they would like the arrangement to proceed. If a surrogate is not comfortable with a requirement requested by a potential parent match, they are free to go elsewhere.
It’s also worth mentioning that not everyone who utilizes surrogacy services is extremely wealthy; Many liquidate savings accounts, borrow from family, use fundraising platforms, or sell their homes to afford surrogacy.
The other problem with the “surrogates are inherently coerced” viewpoint is not understanding that women do and should have agency over their own bodies. They are capable of making informed decisions for themselves. It’s frankly sexist to assume otherwise.
The idea that women who become surrogates do not know what they’re getting into or they wouldn’t do it is nonsense. Surrogates are all women who have had prior uncomplicated (so-called “easy”) pregnancies. They undergo rigorous medical exams to determine if it’s reasonably safe for them to carry a new pregnancy. The naysayers miss that many women find pregnancy to be a beautiful experience. T
he feeling surrogates get from helping others is generally unmatched to anything that have done in the lives. The primary reason most women become surrogates is altruistic. The financial compensation is almost always secondary. This feeling of giving back is why most surrogates go on to do subsequent journeys after their first experience with surrogacy. And if surrogacy helps these women with their own financial goals as well, why is that villainized? More sexist assumptions perhaps.