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Freelance journalist based in Istanbul. Keeping an eye on Turkish politics.
Surrogacy has been a controversial topic for decades, with some feminist and religious groups regarding it as exploitation.
While in Britain surrogacy is regulated, in many other European countries is illegal. In the US, the law varies from state to state. Differences in legislation and costs have created "a global surrogacy trade rife with complications and pitfalls".
Low-cost and unregulated countries such as Thailand, India or Nepal are now barring foreign clients or banning surrogacy altogether to protect surrogates from exploitation.
"Some single men [and gay couples] are also seeking surrogates, just as single women may turn to sperm banks when Mr Right does not appear."
While in Western countries the surrogate is often portrayed as a woman who wants to "help" other women and men have a family, this piece invites the reader to reflect on the surrogates' position elsewhere.
In Thailand, Nepal and India, surrogates are often poor and illiterate women who "earn an amount equivalent to ten years' wages for a single pregnancy". They face multiple pregnancies without knowing the risks, overused caesarean sections and lack of post-partum care.
There are also problems with couples pulling out because of a divorce – with the child given up for adoption; debates over the termination of the pregnancy if the fetus has severe defects; and legal issues faced by parents trying to bring their babies home.
"Some babies born through cross-border surrogacy have been stuck without any citizenship, or without parents who are legally recognised in the country where they are being raised."
However, the new rules, rather than ending the trade, are simply moving it elsewhere to Greece, Laos and Ukraine. Several African countries are also becoming more popular.
Overall, an interesting read on a very hot topic in need of further consideration, and regulation.