The Telegraph and Daily Mail have reported that womb transplants may soon become a reality for women unable to carry a baby – groundbreaking science creating a ‘more ethical solution than surrogacy’.
Yet again, surrogacy is getting a bad press. It is either portrayed as a murky underworld fraught with legal and ethical problems, or as the exclusive domain of the super-rich and famous. As people who deal with real life surrogacy on a daily basis, we know that it is rarely either of these things. Surrogacy is an option for ordinary parents in the UK who have suffered miscarriages, stillbirths, cancer and medical problems they have lived with since birth. It gives hope to women failed by modern medicine, and it is a human solution at the end of a scientific road, a choice by women to help other women.
Why is this collaborative enterprise so unethical? As long as there is free informed choice, isn’t it more ethical to have a child born through an easy natural pregnancy than to put a woman who has already survived cancer through major surgery and anti-rejection drugs, at goodness knows what risk to her and her child?
If you want to talk ethics, let’s talk about the way surrogacy is regulated in the UK. With advertising banned and professional services restricted, parents and surrogates are left without adequate support. Our laws are outdated, recognising only the surrogate and her husband as having any parental status when a child is born. And parents are in droves going abroad to jurisdictions where finding a surrogate mother is easier than it is in the UK, to places where there is often even less protection than in the UK and even less guarantee of free choice.
So let’s stop slating surrogacy in the UK, and have the courage to embrace and celebrate it alongside new options like womb transplants. Only then can we start thinking about managing surrogacy properly in the UK to protect everyone involved.
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