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Ethics of International Commercial Surrogacy

            Globalization and expansions in artificial reproductive techniques have opened up a new range of chances for infertile couples. Transnational gestational surrogacy with monetary remuneration is one of the products of medical tourism in the twenty first century. International surrogacy is defined as a method of assisted reproduction whereby a woman from one country agrees to become pregnant for the purpose of gestating and giving birth to a child for others to raise in a different country (Kumar, Inder, Sharma, 2013, pp65). There is no international regulation of surrogacy agreements, only conflicting national laws that causes ambiguities and removes safeguards for both the surrogate and intended parents. Opponents of international surrogacy claim that surrogacy is essentially "renting out the womb" and is an unethical practice because it exploits, infringes on surrogates welfare and commodifies women. Humbyrd breaks down the major arguments opposing surrogacy to be "the welfare argument, the commodification argument, and the exploitation argument." In arguing for this position, Humbyrd begins by acknowledging that there is currently disparity between benefits for surrogates and intended parents which causes the only justified objection, which is the minimal financial compensation given to the surrogates. The fair trade model takes into account real wage equivalents (Humbyrd p.116), a contract based on time, risk and labor (Humbyrd p117), transparency of financial transaction (Humbyrd p. 118) and payment independent of outcome (Humbyrd p.117). Humbyrd states that following the principles of fair trade model international surrogacy is fair and not exploitative.
             In this essay, I will argue in favor of Humbyrd's fair trade model for a regulated surrogacy market because exploitation is a weak reason for prohibition, as employment alternatives for potential surrogate mothers may be more exploitative or more dangerous than surrogacy.

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