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Hired wombs

April 9, 2010

So on occasion, I find other things to do with the evening. Tonight produced no raid plans, and no particular desire to seek out a pug or play the auction house. On a whim I visited Bookman’s to look for a book I used to have, probably left it back in PA. I ended up with that and the latest issue of Mother Jones magazine. There was a book with Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations in it that I mean to go back for.

Interesting what one can find online; you needn’t buy the Meditations book now, eh? Check that link and read them if you want. The Net is vast and infinite. But I will probably still go get the actual book. I stare at computer monitors enough in a day to want to avoid them, now and then.

I can recall, a couple years back, crafting the hypothetical of artificial wombs to demonstrate — to my satisfaction, at least — that anti-abortion advocates were more interested in punishing women for having sex than they were in the lives of human fetuses. I could not have imagined the uses people would find for existing womb, er, technology. This brings me back to the present, and an MJ article from the latest issue that I’ve been reading.

INDIA LEGALIZED surrogacy in 2002 as part of a long-term push to promote medical tourism. Since 1991, when the country’s new free-market policies took effect, private money has flowed in, fueling construction of world-class hospitals that cater to foreigners. Surrogacy tourism has grown steadily here as word gets around that babies can be incubated at a low price and without government red tape.

I filed this under Skepticism in part to not subject my folks to the rant unless they get curious, and in part because I am a disinterested skeptic, not about to subject the world to any spawn of mine or vice-versa, not sure what to think about this. It’s not something I have a personal stake in; just a curious ethical quandary for me. The article makes good points, I think, about exploitation, unnecessary medical risk for the sake of convenience, and how foreigners are flocking to India because it’s cheaper. Takes two to tango, though; in this case, it takes lax Indian laws that allow surrogacy for pay, as the article puts it.

Past that, though, I am not sure what to think of the premise. It seems a case where the science has advanced further than medical ethics is currently prepared to handle. I found it an interesting exploration of all the permutations of the issue — a somewhat industrialized ‘residency program,’ a different clinic struggling with the ethical issues, and the women struggling to become mothers.

Ah well. Mother Jones always was an interesting read. For a fairly short magazine, it’s taken up my whole evening. What you get from a somewhat more serious take on the issue than some others I’ve noticed.

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