A woman, after a bout with uterine cancer had a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus). Before its removal, however, she had several eggs removed for possible fertilization in the future. Now married, the woman wishes to have a child with her husband. Obviously she cannot bear the child herself, so the couple utilizes a company to find a surrogate mother for them. The husband’s sperm is used to fertilize one of the wife’s eggs, and is implanted in the surrogate mother. The couple pays all of the woman’s pregnancy-related expenses and an extra $18,000 as compensation for her surrogacy.
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After all expenses are taken into account the couple pays the woman approximately $31,000 and the agency approximately $5,000. Though the surrogate passed stringent mental testing to ensure she was competent to carry another couple’s child, after carrying the pregnancy to term, the surrogate says that she has become too attached to “her” child to give it up to the couple. A legal battle ensues.
Questions for Case 1:
•In Hong Kong it is illegal to pay a person for non-replenishable organs. The fear is that money will influence the poor to harm their bodies for the benefit of the rich. Do you see a parallel between this case and this law? Can allowing surrogate mothers to be paid for their troubles allow poorer women to be oppressed? •Does paying the surrogate harm her and/or the child’s dignity?
•Is it selfish for this couple to want children of their own genetic make-up?
•One of the main arguments against the use of surrogate mothers is that carrying and giving birth to a child is such an emotional event that it is impossible to determine if the surrogate will be able to give up the child. Though adults enter into the contract, the child could ultimately suffer if a long custody battle ensues. With the possibility of such battles, do you think it is acceptable for parents to use a surrogate mother?
•Do you think that if the surrogate is awarded the baby, this could cause emotional harm to the child?
•Who do you think should receive the child, and why?See More on Ethics