Americans and Europeans are paying Indian women to have babies so that they can adopt with fewer legal costs and restrictions. Is this empowering for the women who might not otherwise have a job, or is this a nuanced variation on sex slavery?

“‘The human body is not lent out, is not rented out, is not sold,’ France’s highest court ruled back in 1991, when it outlawed surrogate motherhood. In the United States, lip service has long been paid to the notion that women can’t be instrumentalized as baby-making machines. Indeed, one of the ways that surrogacy survives here is under cover of the fiction that the women who bear other women’s babies do so not for the money – which would be degrading – but because they ‘love to be pregnant.’ But our rules of decency seem to differ when the women in question are living in abject poverty, half a world away. Then, selling one’s body for money is not degrading but empowering. And the transaction is not outsourcing of the basest nature – not modern-day wet-nursing taken to the nth degree – but a good deal for everyone concerned. ‘There’s nothing wrong in this,’ Priyanka Sharma, another surrogate, concluded the Marketplace segment. ‘We give them a baby and they give us much-needed money. It’s good for them and for us.’”

Surrogate mothers are seen at Kaival Hospital in Anand, India, in 2006. Photo: AP Photo/Ajit Solanki

The article, as well as the very very very interesting comments, can be read here. (Only slightly related, but, has anyone seen Juno? It’s pretty good [though the abortion-clinic scene is problematic] and the soundtrack is fantastic).