Women’s Mags Do Surrogacy

Posted by Marcy Darnovsky on September 20th, 2007

NY publisher (center)
with egg provider,
surrogate, and baby

Two massive-circulation women’s lifestyle magazines – Glamour and Marie Claire – featured articles about contract pregnancy in their August issues.

Glamour’s story, the rosiest of the two, recounts the baby-making adventures of 40-something New York publisher Beth Brenner, who is “never far from her Treo, which she uses to keep on top of countless business deals and coordinate her social life.” Putting her skills and money to use in her quest for motherhood, Brenner hires a 20-something former beauty queen to provide eggs and a 30-something single mother to provide a womb. The article is written as a heart-warmer with a fairy tale ending, despite a fleeting moment of “tension” when the surrogate wants to vacation in New York City and Brenner tells her, first “gently” and then “clearly,” that the contract she signed forbids her from leaving her home state after her 26th week of pregnancy without Brenner’s permission. Nonetheless, the article manages to portray the class, race, and generational differences among the three women as one more charming aspect of the feel-good story.

  In “Surrogate Mothers: Womb for Rent,” Marie Claire reports on the growing number of poor Indian women who contract to gestate children for affluent Americans. The surrogacy package costs about $12,000 in India, while running up to $70,000 in the US; it also virtually eliminates the worry that a surrogate might change her mind about relinquishing the baby. Some estimate that surrogacy in India is already close to a half-billion dollar a year business.

Writer Abigail Haworth paints a mixed picture of it. She emphasizes the financial windfall and economic independence that contract pregnancy offers to women who otherwise earn on the order of $25 a month, and quotes the surrogacy broker’s reassurances that she screens out women who might be under pressure by their husbands or families. She also points out that some consider this new form of outsourcing “another example of third-world exploitation” and “globalization gone mad”; she even writes that “the system certainly lends itself to the criticism” that it “exploit[s] poor women.”

Posted in Assisted Reproduction, Egg Retrieval, Marcy Darnovsky's Blog Posts, Media Coverage, Race, Reproductive Justice, Health & Rights, Surrogacy


Add a Comment
  1. Comment by Sara, Jul 14th, 2009 2:53pm

    I am gravely concerned about the value of surrogate women's lives as more than simply bodies to house "first world" babies... I find this to be exploitation at it's worst, even if they are "fairly" compensated. Is financial compensation the end-all? I find regard for the sacredness of life, that of the fetus and that of the woman, completely disregarded. Again, money trumps all.

  2. Comment by s komala, Feb 6th, 2008 3:05am

    Surrogacy is an excellent scientific advancement. It gives life value for the infertile couple and a good sum to the surrogate & her family. Now a days India is the target for foreign infertile couples. The number of cases of surrogacy has doubled in the last few years and it is estimated to be $449 million industry, which is substantial.

    Of course I am accepting that Indian surrogates are paid less compared to foreign surrogates but so are Indian programmers, doctors and engineers compared to their foreign counterparts. I think the amount is decided according to cost of living in India. If surrogacy is done through a professional company , exploitation can be avoided.

    S. Komala RN RM



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