Monday, January 7, 2008

Outsourcing Pregnancy to India

The latest trend in outsourcing is using women as surrogate parents from developing countries. This article describes the basic tradeoffs that the surrogate mother’s face:

“Suman Dodia, a pregnant, baby-faced 26-year-old, said she will buy a house with the $4,500 she receives from the British couple whose child she's carrying. It would have taken her 15 years to earn that on her maid's monthly salary of $25.”

While it may be morally difficult to pay a woman in a developing country to be a surrogate parents, there is evidence that this type of payment could extremely improve the surrogate’s life.

However, the key will be if this program can be well run so that the women actually get what they were promised. In some cases regulations or bans might improve outcomes for women who would have participated in the program if they are coerced or not treated well. After reading an article on medical testing in the US in the New Yorker, where test subjects face similar tradeoffs and are not treated well, I’m less sure that the Indian surrogate programs will continue to work. In this case US, British and Indian government must try to make sure that the transaction proposed actually takes place.

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