Surrogate parenting is not a new concept for those who want to be parents. Infertile couples have been using surrogacy for decades now, though pro-lifers have suggested that adoption is a better and more ethical option. But ethics come even more into question with the latest spin on surrogacy, termed “social surrogacy.”
The Guardian reports on this movement, which is growing thanks to a California law allowing “surrogates to earn a profit, and uphold[ing] the rights of intended parents over anyone else who is involved in the creation of their babies.” The lavish Pacific Fertility Center on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles is known for its expensive stores and cars, and is now being hailed for its expensive babies, where if someone has the money, that someone can have a baby with few questions asked, thanks to Dr. Vicken Sahakian. As the Guardian explains:
As diverse as they are, Sahakian’s clients have one thing in common: their ability to afford his services…. “Money talks. If you have money, you’re going to have a baby. It’s sad, but it is the case,” Sahakian says….But immediately after saying this, he checks himself. “It isn’t sad, actually – it’s pretty happy. I believe in this type of science. I believe in family balancing, gender selection, selecting out abnormal embryos, using egg donors, sperm donors, this is what I do. I love what I do. The ultimate goal here is bringing happiness for someone.”
Gender selection. Selecting out abnormal embryos. This is the social engineering of people, of deciding who is worthy of living and dying. And now, he’s the go-to man if a woman is just too busy or can’t be inconvenienced to have a baby, the story says (emphasis added):
Now, a growing number of women are coming to Sahakian for “social” surrogacy: they want to have babies that are biologically their own, but don’t want to carry them. There is no medical reason for them to use a surrogate; they just choose not to be pregnant, so they conceive babies through IVF and then hire another woman to gestate and give birth to their baby. It is the ultimate in outsourced labour.
Does he have any ethical concerns about social surrogacy? “I don’t have issues with it,” Sahakian says, smiling. “If you’re a 28-year-old model or an actor and you get pregnant, you’re going to lose your job – you will. If you want to use a surrogate, I’ll help you.”
So what do women like this think? None of them would talk for the story, according to the author, but Sahakian said, the attitude is, “If I get pregnant, I will lose my part. I work, I don’t have time because of work. I model, I act, I look good like this and I don’t want to disfigure my body.’”
Some of his clients, he says, try to avoid the “stigma” of social surrogacy by pretending to be pregnant, by purchasing “artificial, prosthetic bellies. A business called Moonbump sells them, in various sizes and skin tones.
Besides models, Sahakian’s customers have included “a woman who was campaigning for political office… If she wasn’t out there doing what she needed to do, her election run could be in jeopardy, but she wanted to have a family.”
And one fertility specialist “estimates that up to 20% of the 100-200 clients she sees in her practice each year are there for social surrogacy, saying, “[m]ainly it’s women with careers that don’t allow them the time, or the potential risk of being on bed rest… These are career women where it just doesn’t fit into their schedule but they want to have a child. It’s becoming more of an option, and if it wasn’t so expensive, I think more women would do it.”
Sahakian says he’s gone from five to about 20 cases a year, and sees a rise in reproductive endocrinologists who he figures see the same rise. The cost? $150,000. Sahakian says, “If social surrogacy was more affordable, more women would be doing it, absolutely. There’s an advantage to being pregnant, the bonding, I understand that, and from experience I can say that most women love to be pregnant. But a lot of women don’t want to be pregnant and lose a year of their careers.”
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