The Corner

Cambodia Bans Commercial Surrogacy

There are people who don’t just want a baby, but feel entitled to become parents.

If nature doesn’t cooperate and they don’t wish to adopt, some will engage in what I call “biological colonialism,” that is, treating the bodies of destitute women in developing nations in much the same way that former colonial powers did the natural resources of nations they conquered.

As a result, an IVF/surrogacy industry developed,  industry wherein the embryos of the well off are seeded into the wombs of desperate poor women for very little money, as the brokers of such transactions get very rich.

The “gestational surrogates–the dehumanizing industry term for birth mothers–are sometimes very maltreated, such as being subjected to unnecessary Caesarean sections with too little pain control, housed away from their families in prison-like dorms, sometimes being forced to abort, and even occasionally losing their lives in childbirth.

Some have suffered terrible emotional stress after having the baby with whom they emotionally bonded during gestation, taken away.

And sometimes the biological parents rejected their child if it did not suit them, resulting in the child moved to an orphanage or being raised by the surrogate.

India was the epicenter of this exploitative industry in human body functions until it was recently banned. Now Cambodia is outlawing commercial surrogacy. From the Bioedge report:

Cambodia has become the latest South East Asian nation to ban commercial surrogacy, with the country’s government issuing a proclamation late last month outlawing the practice. 

The Cambodian health ministry distributed a letter this week to about 50 surrogacy providers and brokers operating in Phnom Penh, informing them of the new ban and asking all medical professionals to comply with the injunction. “Surrogacy, one of a set of services to have a baby by assisted reproductive technology, is completely banned,” the letter said.

“I will do anything to have a baby,” some correspondents write in criticizing my support for laws such as this.

I empathize with their pain, but my reply is usually, “That is precisely the problem.” Their very real suffering doesn’t justify the exploitation of others.

Commercial surrogacy–particularly in countries where the parties are in wholly unequal bargaining positions such as Cambodia–should be considered a form of human trafficking and treated at law accordingly.

P.S. For anyone wanting more information about this topic, the Center for Bioethics and Culture is the most vibrant activist organization opposing abuses in the IVF and associated fields. Here’s its Website.

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