Surrogacy brings complex ethical issues around gender, payment, exploitation

Clinically surrogacy is a treatment option for infertile couples or single individuals who want to be a parent but are unable to carry the pregnancy. This may occur due to complexity in reproductive functioning or physiology not allowed to do so. Surrogacy is also considered as an alternative to the traditional adoption process, which allows generating genetically linked children.

Taking these views, the acceptance of surrogacy in society is increasing day by day. Many infertile couples, single parents, and gay couples also bring their happiness by opting for surrogacy. According to critics, surrogacy is a complicated issue of society that expresses many ethical issues related to gender, payment, inequality, and exploitation.

surrogacy pregnacy complexities


Surrogacy involves physical and emotional effort for gestating and birthing a child for other infertile couples. In the social aspect, surrogacy is considered a selfless service. It is distinct from other services like working as a teacher or working in a factory or organization. This raises a question – what is the difference between surrogacy and other kinds of professional services? If there is no difference, then why surrogate should not be remunerated?

Some experts believe surrogacy service is not a payable job. It differs from other works, as surrogates are thoroughly involved during pregnancy. She has to be committed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for nine months. These features of surrogacy make it a unique service, which cannot be compared with other works.

But contrary to this view, divergent socialists argue that surrogacy has uniformity to conventional services. Various jobs require physical control Astronauts have to maintain a very controlled life in every aspect involved in their daily activities including eating habits, exercise, etc. just like surrogates. There are many jobs that require prolonged involvement, like a writer taking a longer time than the gestational period to complete an evocative book. If all these jobs are payable, then why not surrogacy?

However, still, ethical issues are still coming up regarding the payment to the surrogate. It does not produce any inanimate object or deal with the resistant situation in the space, but it involves the birth of a living child. The service and the result of surrogacy are so sensitive, which cannot be measured through the payment process. 


Physical allowance to gestate and deliver a child is normally given to women. Therefore, surrogacy involves gender-biased labor. This triggers feminist apprehensions such as autonomy, vulnerability, inequality, and rights.

During gestation, surrogates do not maintain their bodily autonomy.  She is not responsible for fetal bodily alteration in case any discrepancy occurs after the birth of a child. Even surrogacy brings feminist concerns for intended parents. A Female has the natural capacity to carry a child. However, such physical inability of intended mothers also raises critical situations about their feminism. Feminists are also worried about women being considered natural carers due to their biological capacity. This brings uneven gender roles in parenting in general.

Inequality and Exploitation

Exploitation is the ultimate ethical issue in surrogacy. Different countries have their regulations which are different from each of them. Some countries consider surrogates as legitimate mothers, while others consider the intended mothers as the same. Some countries ban commercial surrogacy and allow altruistic forms. While some countries permit commercial surrogacy. 

Some indented parents get legal rights of the child before or immediately after the birth of the child, whereas some get after six months of child age due to the different legislation of different countries. These differences often cause unpredictable difficulties for both surrogate and intended parents. The chances of vulnerability increase due to the unavailability of uniform global surrogacy regulation and the pursuance of country-specific ethical differences.  

Read Also: Surrogate motherhood situations and practical implications

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