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surrogacy, Julie Bindel is right, it is human rights abuse

(378 Posts)
antimatter Sat 20-Feb-16 13:26:19

www.byline.com/project/43/article/820
and
www.byline.com/project/43

I have to say I didn't realise that surrogate clinics existed to provide service to rich foreigners.
It is exploitation on many levels.

MyCrispBag Sat 20-Feb-16 14:07:02

"She's doing a job for us, how often do you communicate with your builder or your gardener?"

Quote on the BBC from a British woman who paid an Indian woman to be a surrogate.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24670212

PalmerViolet Sat 20-Feb-16 15:06:52

This paragraph:

There is one gay male couple in the UK, the Drewitt-Barlow’s who have five children through surrogacy. They’ve spent a fortune on buying these children. One of the men said ‘you get what you pay for’ when he was told that one of his children was very handsome. So the children are seen as commodities not just the women whose wombs they use. One of the most disturbing things I’ve heard from commissioning parents was from this man who insisted upon a caesarian birth with all of his children’s births. I assumed from my conversation with clinics earlier that this was something to do with health- this is horrific but I assumed that, but they told me it was because they didn’t want any of their children coming in contact with a woman’s vagina because they found that so disgusting.

Says it all to me really.

cadnowyllt Sat 20-Feb-16 16:09:46

What does it say to you ?

GreenTomatoJam Sat 20-Feb-16 16:43:26

Just makes me think of the axlotl tanks in Dune, or those ridiculous images that went around once alleging that KFC grew their chickens connected up to tubes without heads (as if that would be easier than growing a chicken the normal way)

The people growing the babies aren't women, they're just a womb, a means to an end, and that end is the baby. They'll treat the woman (and the baby) in exactly the same way as any other service they're buying - expecting full control, and sending back anything they deem 'defective' (like that poor surrogate in Thailand - I think - recently who had a baby with downs and one or both of the parents didn't want the baby).

It is horrific. When younger I, too, thought it wouldn't be that bad. But 2 kids later, and I absolutely know I couldn't do it. The risk to health, giving the baby away, none of it. Pregnancy is bloody dangerous.

PalmerViolet Sat 20-Feb-16 16:48:35

The woman in Thailand gave birth to twins, one fine, the other with Down's. They rejected the one with Down's. Probably because the commodity wasn't up to par.

In the end it turned out that the man in the couple who had rented the poor woman's womb was a known/convicted paedophile and iirc, the child was removed from them.

GreenTomatoJam Sat 20-Feb-16 17:01:28

I didn't know about the second bit.

I remember reading Tyra Banks announcement:
As we thank the angel of a woman that carried our miracle baby boy for us

And thinking that that's actually one of the only celebrities I've seen who've so clearly acknowledged that a woman grew the baby for her. I've read other announcements that were downright dehumanising for the surrogate mother

GreenTomatoJam Sat 20-Feb-16 17:03:07

Found one - Lucy Liu - wasn't a surrogate mother, or a woman - it was either a gestational surrogate or a gestational carrier in the reports.

mudandmayhem01 Sat 20-Feb-16 17:55:15

I think there could be comparisons between surrogacy and wet nursing. The bodies of poor women used to fulfill the needs of the rich ( I think the exception could be when surrogacy is a truly altruistic act between sisters or close friends, for example)

lostinmiddlemarch Sat 20-Feb-16 18:46:45

I (and every other IP I know - that's abbreviation for the couple for whom a surrogate is carrying) are deeply grateful to the women who have helped us. We don't feel our surrogate was exploited or abused in any way. She made a decision to carry a child for us and it was informed, made of her own free will, for reasons both altruistic and personal. It benefited her family and it certainly benefited ours. She was able to weigh up the risks of pregnancy perfectly well because she had come through it a number of times before.

No one is saying there aren't obscene intended parents out there, and there is a general consensus that regulation of surrogacy for ethical reasons is necessary. But let's not pretend that women must be saved from making an informed choice to do something that, in an only slightly different context, most women do a number of times in their lifetime.

We may, as women, have ideas about what would be optimum for other women. But it would be an abuse to impose those choices on them. This is not a Utopian society.

habitsoftheheart Sat 20-Feb-16 18:55:53

Julie Bindel is doing important work exposing the horrors of surrogacy - as a modern day exploitation of women. Here in the U.S. we have had some very recent scandals - surrogate pregnant with twins died (as did the twins) - two women carrying triplets and being bullied into "selective reduction" of one of the babies because I.P.s only want two children. Military wives are heavily targeted and recruited as paid surrogates.

GreenTomatoJam Sat 20-Feb-16 19:02:32

lost, I think, that like many things, there is a difference between the informed choices that a well fed, housed, educated woman in a western country can make, and those of poor women (both in the west and in other countries)

The Indian surrogate dorms are exploitation, yes, they're making an informed choice, but that choice is so heavily influenced by the probably lifechanging amounts of money (that will pay for their own children to be fed, housed, and educated) that I'm afraid I can't see it as a free choice.

Just look at the Indian attitude to poor people - poor women especially and tell me that you feel these women are truly making a choice without coercion?

Both women are making altruistic choices - the surrogate mother in the UK probably is doing it to bring happiness to the IPs, with any economic benefit as a side effect, but the woman in Thailand or India is doing it to give her family better prospects (although I'm sure she also is pleased that the baby is going to parents who want the baby so much)

Hunchbackofnotre Sat 20-Feb-16 19:09:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GreenTomatoJam Sat 20-Feb-16 19:14:06

I'm not very well informed on how it all works, but the UK stance on not paying for blood/organs/surrogacy etc seems to help - although people in the UK can still exploit foreign women.

I feel that the overly capitalist way the US approaches these things encourages exploitation over altruism.

AllTheToastIsGone Sat 20-Feb-16 19:26:10

Paid surrogacy should be banned. There are are things that just shouldn't be for sale like women's bodies.

Every pregnancy and birth damages a woman's body. Repeated birth leads to muscle damage, prolapse and incontinence. I can't even think about the emotional damage caused by having to hand over a new born you have felt growing in your body, with your hormones raging and your milk coming in.

BathtimeFunkster Sat 20-Feb-16 19:43:41

Going through a pregnancy for someone else is not "a slightly different context" from carrying your own children.

It's entirely different.

I'm actually a bit horrified that you could think that putting a woman's body through a pregnancy for a baby she will have to give up is only "slightly different" from the choice to have children of her own.

Ugh.

Rather backs up the argument that it should be banned in all cases other than genuinely altruistic.

No profit motive, no coercion, no people who want to use your body pretending it's just like the babies you carried for yourself.

sashh Sun 21-Feb-16 08:07:43

No one is saying there aren't obscene intended parents out there, and there is a general consensus that regulation of surrogacy for ethical reasons is necessary. But let's not pretend that women must be saved from making an informed choice to do something that, in an only slightly different context, most women do a number of times in their lifetime.

But it is not an informed choice. I have not read the article, I will, but from what I know of Indian surrogacy the surrogates are not well educated middle class women, they come from remote villages and cannot read and write.

One of the reasons the women move to a hostel is that their neighbours think they are inseminated through sex and it is to protect their 'honour' but also means the agency/Dr/clinic can control everything about the pregnancy from food and vitamins to the method of giving birth.

It is very similar to the young girls sent from small villages in Thailand to work in the city and when they get there the work is in a brothel.

lostinmiddlemarch Sun 21-Feb-16 09:04:49

Are you aware of how patronising you doing? I have watched hours of documentary footage of interviews with Indian surrogates (although it's not possible for foreigners to engage one now anyway) and I agree that in some circumstances there is coercion due to economic context. However, it is condescending and misguided to think that a woman cannot know about the risks of pregnancy because she is illiterate. Or cannot be capable of feeling satisfaction about helping another woman. Or is not able to weigh up a decision that would make a great difference to her life, simply because it would make a great difference.

If you watch hours of interview footage with woman employees by a reputable surrogacy clinic, several things become clear:
1. They don't engage women who are destitute. These women are blue collar class. There husbands tend to be craftsmen. They can survive perfectly well without the money, but it will indeed make a difference to their lives.
2. Some IPs have a horrible attitude but they are in the minority. Their attitude has next to no impact on the women because the standard of care is set by the clinic. Clinics are under a great deal of pressure to treat women extremely well.
3. The women find it very difficult to live apart from their older children for the pregnancy. They have one visit home a week and this is very hard. They are bored stiff living with the other women, though the houses they live in are pleasant. Occasionally a clinic has small flats where they can live with their children.
4. It gives some women a lot of satisfaction to know they are giving another woman the chance to be a parent.
5. Some women use surrogacy as a way to leave violent relationships, first to live in the accommodation, and afterwards to live independently. This is not uncommon.
6. Women who have had difficult pregnancies out births wouldn't be passed as surrogates.
7. There are always more would-be surrogates than needed. Reputable clinics only engage women who are in good health and have a home, I.e. they will not be doing surrogacy to live.
8. Women are quizzed carefully about the freedom of their choice and their fee is not released to them directly but instead is released to pay a mortgage for a house in their name, or to a college or bank if it's a start-up business.
9. Women are well cared for, their pregnancies tend to be straight forward, the pregnancy itself is boring and the money buys a small house in a village. The woman usually intend to sell this house and buy again in a town.
10. There are laws surrounding who can be a surrogate and how many times a woman can do it. She can't be related to the child. For her own well-being, she can't carry more than twins.

BathtimeFunkster Sun 21-Feb-16 09:12:07

If you have to go to India to pay a woman to carry your baby for you, then you are doing a totally immoral thing.

You are treating a woman's body as a commodity. You are treating a woman as a commodity.

No hours of documentary footage will make that untrue.

Paid surrogacy is as wrong as paid organ donation.

allegretto Sun 21-Feb-16 09:13:35

Paid surrogacy is as wrong as paid organ donation.

I agree.

cadnowyllt Sun 21-Feb-16 09:16:37

I'm confused, is the thrust of this article that the UK is committing a breach of Human Rights by a failure to investigate the crime of paying for surrogacy ?

My understanding is that Human Rights Abuse are limited to those abuses carried out by a State upon individuals. Abuses between individuals themselves are criminal offences.

mudandmayhem01 Sun 21-Feb-16 09:18:22

Thank you bath time, completely agree. Is overseas prostitution acceptable too if the women/ children are well treated? Its racism, colonialism and misogyny rolled into one.

TheXxed Sun 21-Feb-16 09:23:25

Lostinthemiddlemarch can you provide us with the hours of footage you watched? I am struggling to take you seriously since last time we spoke about this subject you were sparing with the truth and said egg donors were paid a flat fee for their services when then are compensated for their expenses.

TheXxed Sun 21-Feb-16 09:28:28

Thank you bath time, completely agree. Is overseas prostitution acceptable too if the women/ children are well treated? Its racism, colonialism and misogyny rolled into one

This x 100

FrankUnderwoodsWife Sun 21-Feb-16 09:31:55

Whilst I understand some of the opposition to the usage of surrogates, I assume the women objecting have never suffered from infertility?

That primal desire to have a baby is so strong, and the desperation of infertility is incredibly acute!

If the women providing surrogacy services are informed of the risks, and compensated for it, I don't see an issue.

Additionally, I also feel it's incredibly patronising for educated, middle class women, living in a first world country, to get so "outraged" about it. Especially as you haven't lived the lives these women have.

Maybe the money means they can educate their children, or get away from an abusive partner. Or even support elderly parents. Whatever the reason, who are WE to tell them they shouldn't be doing it?

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