For any commercial service, markets will naturally arise to meet the available demand. Surrogacy is no different. With a growing number of people turning to alternative family planning, the market for surrogacy is now well established. With such a niche service the costs of surrogacy can easily reach into the tens of thousands, with the average price of commercial surrogacy surpassing $100,000 USD.
As with many consumer services, the global market is often far more competitive than the domestic one. The same can be said in terms of surrogacy. Compensation to a surrogate mother in parts of Eastern Europe can be as low as $12,000. There are many who worry about women from poorer countries being exploited in these situations to carry children from wealthy parents, desperate to start their own family.
At present, where commercial surrogacy is illegal (or at least very expensive) we believe that the decision made by any women to be the surrogate for another is completely autonomous. However, when we start factoring the financial burdens of those in less developed countries, it’s easy to see how they could be swayed by the money and the expectation, rather than the act of kindness itself.
For example, India used to have one of the biggest international surrogacy markets in the world but as of late 2015, closed its doors to overseas couples looking to find a surrogate mother there. In comparison to the $30,000 paycheck in the USA, in India, surrogate others earn just $5,000 to carry a surrogate child. There is little protection to stop them from being pressured into these situations by other family members as it is often means a life changing sum.
At a global level, 99% of maternal deaths happen in developing countries. There surrogate mothers do not have the high-quality care that they may need when carrying the baby. The risk is multiplied if carrying more than one child, which is common in IVF cycles transferring more than one embryo at a same time. Pregnancies involving multiple babies can put serious strain on the mother’s vital organs and often leads to premature birth and serious health effects to both surrogate and babies.
The aftercare for new mothers in these countries is often limited, especially in cases where the baby has been born by C-section. Health organizations in America urge for there to be tighter regulation on this, to offer full mental and physical health screenings before a surrogate mother is chosen and to also protect the mother afterwards with any support to counselling she may need.
It is commonly thought that there can be a balance between a free-trading market and the complete ban that others are calling for, but finding that middle ground may take some time.