Ethical Implications of Gestational Carrier Programs

Many individuals and groups have raised concern over the ethical implications of gestational carrier programs. This assisted reproductive technology (ART) gives couples, single people and gay couples an opportunity to raise a biological, or in some cases, a non-biological child. Without gestational carrier programs, many of these prospective parents would have little hope of having a biological child. Nevertheless, there are serious and legitimate concerns regarding these programs. 

U.S. Exploitation and Marketing

There is a growing concern that technology makes it possible to great profits at the expense of the prospective parents, while exploiting the women who become gestational carriers. 

In the U.S., there is disagreement over the amount of compensation that should be awarded to gestational carriers for their services. There is a suspicion that some women from lower socio-economic backgrounds view these programs as a way to improve their economic status. The fear is that women may become gestational carriers on multiple occasions; thereby, they put their own health and the health of the unborn child in jeopardy. 

International Exploitation and Marketing

International concern has mounted over the ethics of “reproductive tourism.” Reproductive tourism describes the highly marketed gestational carrier programs and ART programs in foreign countries that solicit native-born gestational carriers and foreign-born prospective parents for profit. 

It has been suggested that these programs exploit poor women in these countries. Poor women in India and the Ukraine are especially vulnerable, because the government endorses these businesses or upholds private agreements between the parties. Often, these women are illiterate and uneducated, so they do not fully understand the risk they are taking. Furthermore, compared to their U.S. counterparts, foreign gestational carriers do no not receive generous compensation packages. Additionally, these women are not as highly screened, as their counterparts in the U.S. are.

Conflicting Religious Ethics

In many faiths, the idea of sperm collection apart from intercourse is contrary to their religious teachings. Some faiths point out that sperm collection via masturbation goes against religious law, as stated in Biblical scripture. 

Religions, such as the Roman Catholic church believe all ART procedures are contrary to the purpose of marriage. According to these beliefs, marriage is a sacred union created for the purpose of procreation out of love. It is believed that infertile couples have been chosen to care for others as adoptive parents, foster parents and educators or in other capacities. 

Moral Concerns

Some individuals and groups believe that gestational carrier programs and ART procedures devalue children. Once money exchanges hands, the child becomes a commodity. They also claim that there is a great potential for prospective parents to manipulate genetics and create a “designer” child. 

Another objection surrounds the thousands of children in foster care or orphanages, who are already awaiting parents and homes. Additionally, there is some debate as to whether same-sex couples should be allowed to raise a child. 

Legal Debate

Legally issues are currently resolved on a state basis. These issues concern topics related to paternity and biological parentage. Many question who should have custody of the child in the event of divorce or death.

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