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The Controversy Over Surrogacy

On Sunday, November 30, 2008, The New York Times Magazine published a cover story titled “Her Body, My Baby” by longtime New York Times style reporter Alex Kuczynski, in which the author wrote about her recent experience paying another woman to carry and have her child.

Online sparks—both pro and con—about the issue of surrogacy ignited almost immediately. The website urbanbaby.com asked “What was your reaction to Alex Kuczynski’s NYT article on her experience using a surrogate mother to carry her baby?”

In its “Daily Intel” section, on December 3, 2008, New York Magazine published an article titled “Does the Times Secretly Hate Alex Kuczynski?”

The coup de grace came when, on December 10, 2008, The Wall Street Journal’s Thomas Frank wrote “Rent-a-Womb Is Where Market Logic Leads: Surrogate Motherhood Raises Troubling Issues,”  in which he excoriated the rich, thin, and beautiful Kuczynski not so much for resorting to surrogacy but for voicing her arguable disrespect about her surrogate and the process itself.

Wrote Frank: “Surrogate motherhood has been the subject of much philosophical and political dispute over the years. To summarize briefly, it is a class-and-gender minefield. When money is exchanged for pregnancy, some believe, surrogacy comes close to organ-selling, or even baby-selling… Then there are the photographs, already infamous: Ms. Kuczynski in a black sleeveless sheath and stiletto-heel pumps, posing next to the pregnant surrogate in khakis and a tousled pink flannel shirt. Ms. Kuczynski holding the baby on the lawn of her Southampton estate, with columns, topiary and servant. The surrogate sitting, barefoot and alone, on a beat-up porch of her house in Pennsylvania.”

It’s unfortunate that such images have done so much to negatively mold peoples’ perceptions of gestational surrogacy. In our experience at USC Fertility, this is not at all what surrogacy is about. It is a medical treatment rather than an arrangement for convenience. And it is absolutely essential in a variety of situations in which a woman who desires a family is unable to carry the pregnancy or give birth herself. These include cancer survivors, women with congenital problems of the uterus, and women with problems as common as fibroids. Typically, the intended parents are closely involved with the surrogate throughout the entire pregnancy, and are even present at the birth. We at USC Fertility believe that surrogacy—when treated responsibly and with the respect it deserves—is a vital, necessary alternative for all parties involved.

Read the above links and form your own opinion.

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