Social Question

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

What are your thoughts on reproductive 'tourism'?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38980points) April 13th, 2011

I found this really well-written article here and it does such a good job summarizing the many issues involved in this kind of global stratification. I wanted to know what flutherites thought about this kind of baby obtaining and whether you know anyone involved in any of it.

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11 Answers

everephebe's avatar

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!””
Emma Lazarus, 1883

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t see anything wrong with it, for various reasons. One reason being that the planet doesn’t belong to humans, so our concept of borders and nations is essentially pointless. I should have the right to travel anywhere I’d like on the planet, climb a mountain etc. What people do with their bodies, or the bodies of others, is their business as long as they don’t hurt anyone and are good parents, of course.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

First off, why shouldn’t they – they’re just trying to give their kid the best opportunities they can. Second, even if it is “bad”, I just can’t get worked up over it – it’s like people bringing their own candy into movie theatres. Technically, it might be a breech of the social contract, but if fixating on this issue is the best possible use of your time, you need to get a fucking life. STAT.

Haleth's avatar

Well, the article mentioned two different types of travel. The first one, women coming into the wealthier/more stable countries to give birth- I think that we’re not permissive enough when it comes to immigration, and I’m all for people trying to give their children a better chance. I know plenty of people who are first or second generation Americans and who are brilliant and successful. Also, these women are acting under their own steam.

There’s a pattern in immigration in America. People settle here and gradually start to adapt and consider themselves Americans. Then they panic when the next wave of immigrants arrives. For example, Irish immigrants had a rough time in America when they first arrived. There were policies like “NINA,” no Irish need apply. Generations later, their descendants probably just consider themselves Americans. My own family came in through Ellis Island three and four generations ago from Turkey, Italy, Greece, Albania, and Poland. We’re fully American. Some of my older relatives think it’s a shame that so many people are coming in from Latin America, Africa, and Asia and that American culture is changing. But their parents did the exact same thing! (facepalms.)

So as far as women giving birth in wealthier nations, I think that’s just a way to stir up a new panic over immigration. The same people who are afraid of immigration are probably also afraid of women’s sexuality and reproduction, so a story that blends the two is sure to grab headlines. People will always go where the money is, and people will reproduce, and I fully support anyone’s right to do either of those things.

The second type of “reproductive tourism” in the article really gives me pause. (That is, wealthy couples traveling to less wealthy nations to find inexpensive surrogate mothers.) It squicks me that Oprah threw her support behind this one and called it “poignant.” There’s just such a major imbalance of power in a transaction like this.

6rant6's avatar

Breeds resentment.

JLeslie's avatar

I skimmed over the article. My personal feeling is I am all for women being able to deliver their babies wherever they want, and to pay for surrogacy wherever they want, but I am not in favor of the birth giving automatic citizenship to the baby. If the parent(s) is a legal resident, does not have to be a citizen, then I am for giving the baby automatic citizenship, but not to someone ina country with tourist status. Of course, surrogacy is more tricky, the mother birthing the baby is a citizen. Some countries allow for the actual birth certficate to be changed to the “adopting” parent is actually on the birth certficate. I would have to think about that situation more, how the law could work with that situation,

dialectical1's avatar

In a vacuum, it might be a perfectly fine way of fulfilling the need of being a parent – & benefiting another who made the choice to be a surrogate without any coercion.

However, given extreme inequality being wealthy western prospective parents & surrogate mothers in the Global South, I think that poor economic conditions can do the coercion without the involvement of anyone else.

I don’t say this with the intention of banning the practice, but so that awareness of the inherent imbalance in power can lead to people factoring the ethical issues of the situation when deliberating about how to become a parent. They’d be asking someone to go through a pregnancy and giving up a baby (very difficult, even if one isn’t able to parent properly in their circumstances) who easily would not of their own accord go through such a serious, monumental undertaking. Surrogate mothers do have their own agency regardless of circumstance, but their agency is much restricted due to having to somehow deal with challenging circumstances. Their range of options relative to what – in a vacuum or with more circumstantial freedom – they’d be willing to put up with is much less than those of western prospective parents. This means they’re vulnerable, & this is being exploited in order to benefit incredibly advantaged people. At the very least there needs to be steps taken to counteract the difficulties this could cause surrogate mothers, & to hold those with more power over the situation accountable to ensure the mothers themselves feel they’re treated very well.

Then, factor in how unethical some operations are that facilitate tourist surrogacy. Some essentially keep women prisoners for the duration of the pregnancy, ostensibly to ensure they receive proper medical treatment. Physically well cared for prisoners, but not under conditions most people would willingly endure unless their other options made them desperate. This does somewhat involve taking advantage of the vulnerability of others. But they’re more than walking wombs, & treating people’s liberty as much less worthwhile concern than that of the most stringent prospective parents is unethical.

I’m not sure if it’s mentioned in the article, but there’s so many children who desperately need loving families. Yes, I understand wanting a baby as opposed to an older child, but if one’s willing to go through the lengths involved with reproductive tourism, I hope they seriously considered adoption (I know it’s a very difficult process, financially, emotionally & in terms of time and bureaucratic hassles. But it’s also not an easy thing for a child to go through the foster care system.)

There’s also environmental concerns regarding population. People living in the US consume, on average, 4X more resources than at least those in the global south, & I’m sure everyone’s aware of how limited our planets resources might be for those already living. It shouldn’t be the burden of those with fertility difficulties to lower our birthrate by forced adoption, yet everyone should at least consider doing what they can to keep from avoidably worsening major problems facing our whole species.

JLeslie's avatar

@dialectical1 Your comment about adoption does not mention that some people simply want their own biological baby. It’s not just about the process, or the money, or the age of the child, or the hassles. I think all too often people who want their own biological baby are portrayed as selfish, and are misunderstood.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie I do think they’re misunderstood and I certainly must be one of the ones that misunderstands them. Can you explain why anyone would be hell bent on having a biological baby?

dialectical1's avatar

It seems understood that the motivation to have biologically-related offspring is much of the motivation behind surrogacy. I just thought, considering how genetics &/or the age of the child are almost universally the default and primary motivations factored into making this decision, it was worth discussing other issues so that they might at least affect the decision-making process, like ethics & the environment.

I, too, don’t fully understand why being biologically-related to one’s child is so important. Of course, it’s part of our genetic coding to want to preserve our genetic material, which makes the motivation understandable… yet still, I’m sorry, yet I currently don’t understand why this is so often prized above even making sure biological propagation can be done in an ethical, conscientious way. I’m curious what I’m not getting about this.

plethora's avatar

All developed countries have immigration policies and laws and recognize the right of any country to determine who enters and lives in their country. The USA’s immigration quotas have been bloated since 1970, when congress began raising them to 400% of the the prior levels.

“Reproductive Tourism” appears to be a back door to circumvent immigration laws.

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