I suppose a baby factory is the obvious successor to the egg bank, but it wasn't something I was expecting to come across in last week's Metro.
The most ridiculous aspect (and now I've said that I am torn as to which bit is actually the most ridiculous) of this article is Dr Patel's claim that she is carrying out a feminist mission. As the Anscombe Bioethics Centre wrote in their review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act:
Surrogate motherhood involves a further fragmentation and trivialisation of parenthood, in that a woman deliberately becomes a gestational mother with no intention of committing herself to caring for the child she gestates. This practice is exploitative of both the woman and the child, and damages the way conception and gestation are regarded in society as a whole. If surrogacy cannot be prohibited altogether (the option we would prefer), commercial surrogacy, at very least, should continue to be prohibited. We do not believe that agencies should be registered with the Department of Health, as the Brazier Committee recommends, as this would constitute official endorsement of such agencies. (An analogy might be with the case of prostitution: those opposed to prostitution are rightly unwilling to accept the official registering of brothels, as this effectively legitimises their existence.)
Dr Patel is clearly exploiting women; of the £28,000 a couple pay for a surrogate mother, the surrogate receives less than £5,000. For 9 months manual labour (a 'physical job') the mother earns approximately 73p an hour (based on a 40 week pregnancy). And paying a woman for the use of her body is definitely analagous to prostitution. But hey, at least facilities are sterile!
And then we have the desperate couples who choose this option and are willing and able to pay. Are they not also being exploited to a certain extent (albeit in a design of their own making)? This is not a good way to have a family: I know of one woman who regularly tells people how much her IVF twins cost her, apparently believing that their grades should be better than those of other children because they cost more. As they get older, will she dictate to them on the basis that she paid for them? Isn't that a form of slavery? As always it is the child who loses: exploited by both genetic and surrogate parents.
We are now way beyond the start of the slippery slope: there are those who are 'too posh to push', those who choose the gender or disability status of their children. It would not surprise me if there were also designer pregnancies, where the pregnancy happens to another person, whether a woman is fertile or not. Is this the new feminist ideal: the exploitation of one woman to spare another some nine months of inconvenience? Even organs are not commodities to be traded, selected, bought, sold or even rented, so why do we seem to think that children are?