Since surrogacy in Israel has been in the news, I thought I would pass along this story:
The Israeli feminist group Isha L’Isha has published a harshly critical report on surrogate motherhood. Israel was the first country to legalise surrogacy, in March 1996. But 15 years later, says Isha L’Isha, “insufficient data have, as yet, been gathered to enable full evaluation of this innovative social experiment.”
“It is our belief that perceiving pregnancy and childbirth for another couple or individual solely as a financial business transaction is inappropriate and unthinkable. The fact that surrogacy is a complex relationship which might be fertile ground for harm and exploitation must be recognized, especially when private organizations with financial interests are allowed to become involved. We believe, that surrogacy in Israel should be prohibited. In the least, surrogacy must not be allowed to becomes an accepted, routine procedure, and should provide a solution only in rare, very extreme cases.”
The report warns that surrogacy could easily become baby farming:
“Objective utilization of identity-related aspects of the human body contradicts basic ethical values, and by nature, has high potential for exploitation and degradation. Surrogacy is an experimental procedure with great potential for harm, especially if it will become prevalent and accepted. The distance between heroically presenting a unique human gift to a childless couple and time spent on a ‘fertility farm,’ which uses human machines, is not large, and the ability to preserve this distance will diminish as surrogacy becomes more widespread and routine.”
Instead of proposing reasonable suggestions to regulate the industry so as avoid the potential exploitation of surrogates, Isha L’Isha has instead elected to recommend that surrogacy in all forms be prohibited. In the process, they are comfortable condemning couples experiencing infertility to a lifetime of childlessness. Furthermore, by taking such a protectionist attitude, they unwittingly marginalize women by assuming they are incapable of making intelligent and considered decisions about their own bodies. The irony in all of this is that if Israel bans surrogacy, Israelis will turn to countries like India and the Ukraine to find surrogates where there have been serious and credible allegations of exploitation and victimization.
I cannot help but think this kind of attitude is a giant step backwards for the women’s movement.
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