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Essex: Gay father and businessman calls for UK surrogacy reform

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  1. I’m a fan of Reggie Dwight, but he’s a selfish pr1ck on this matter. He’s 66 years old and has probably knocked a good few years off his life with all the drink and drugs he’s done, and when he kicks the bucket, his kids will still be in their teens.

  2. Brett Gibson 24 Jan 2013, 1:05am

    Exactly what we need in the UK. Don’t really see why it’s illegal. I for one would like these services for when I plan to have kids in about 15 years time.

    1. Surrogacy itself is not illegal, just *commercial* surrogacy.

  3. why dont more gays adopt? both gay parents obviously won’t be biologically related to a child from surrogacy, so what’s the fuss? plenty of kids already that need homes. But they should probably fix that pedo thing.

    1. What on earth do you mean by that ‘pedo thing’?

      1. Didn’t you read the article….?

  4. For once, I agree with him.

    Some friends of mine have recently had two children, via surrogacy in the US. The issue then is those children’s births are then registered US citizens meaning they then have to get visa’#s etc to bring them back home and still wouldn’t be British citizens.

    I am sure that there are plenty of people across the country would prefer to be able to use surrogate mothers here. If I were ever to do it, I would prefer to do it in this country.

  5. Jock S. Trap 24 Jan 2013, 10:20am

    I do agree. I dare say there would be plenty of women who would legally like to be surrogates and the UK law should reflect that in the best way possible.

  6. Hmm, I’m not sure. It depends how realistic the payment is currently to surrogate mothers in the UK. Maybe that could just be increased *slightly* if it’s inadequate, but I don’t like the idea of paying lots of money to a surrogate.

    It shouldn’t be a way for women to make money – for both the sake of the prospective parents (is she only doing it for the cash?) and that of the woman (has she been persuaded by the amount of money to do something she really rather wouldn’t because she’s desperate?).

    Improving the service would be good, but commercialising it is another matter.

    It’d also rule out less well off prospective parents. (ie Why do it for someone for, say, £8,000 expenses when someone else will pay £20,000?)

    1. Why is it that paying men well for the services they provide is considered fine. But when it comes to paying women a decent wage for the services they may provide it is immediately assumed to be immoral. People sell their services for money. The immorality really starts when people are paid much less for services they provide than they could be. The problematic issue with commercialisation is that the middle man could pocket more than the surrogate. However, there could be legislation to prevent this. So, why must women who are surrogates act for solely altruistic motives? We do not require men to act solely out of altruistic motives for their work. We should not impose a double standard on women which limits their access to wealth and empowerment.

      1. You’re forgetting this is about creating BABIES….not building brick walls!

        How is that noone seems to considering why it is that a woman would want to give up and sell her own child…?

        The current law we have in place in the UK guards against women being pushed into a situation by circumstances where they’re willing to sell their baby…

        1. Surrogacy need not be women selling their babies. Surrogacy can occur where the surrogate shares no genes with the baby as an egg is used from a woman who is not the surrogate (gestational surrogacy). In gestational surrogacy it is not obvious that the baby is the surrogate’s rather than someone else’s. The surrogate and the baby are not genetically related. Moreover, surrogates should be paid in instalments until the birth of the baby. This would make it clearer that what the money is paying for is the service the surrogate provides. The money does not pay for the baby as, properly understood, in gestational surrogacy the baby is not the surrogate’s in the first place.

          Most surrogacies occur without emotions causing problems. Perhaps most women would not want to be surrogates. However, it does not follow that all women do not want to be surrogates. There are some that do. To deny women higher wages for surrogacy out of a fear that women would be “forced into it” denies female agency

      2. “But when it comes to paying women a decent wage for the services they may provide it is immediately assumed to be immoral. ”

        Where did I say it was immoral?? I was questioning the idea of commercialising it. Did you actually read my comment? I said that the money paid should be increased if neccessary but that surrogacy shouldn’t be commercialised – so hardly saying that women should only do it for altruistic reasons.

        Bearing a child for nine months isn’t “work”. You clearly have no concept of pregnancy or labour and the physical and emotionally issues involved.

        And what pompous crap to say “We should not impose a double standard on women which limits their access to wealth and empowerment”! There are PLENTY of things that limit women’s access to wealth – the fact that we’re still not paid the same wage as man doing the same job; the fact that women who choose to be mothers are disadvantaged in their career unlike fathers. However, not having commercial surrogacy isn’t one of them.

        1. I never claimed you used the word “immoral”. “…surrogacy shouldn’t be commercialised” is not merely a normative statement as it says that something is wrong (or immoral). Some women think that bearing a child for 9 months is work and a very fulfilling form of work at that. These women have been surrogates on several occasions and so might have a better understanding of how pregnancy affects them than even you! I doubt they would be so crass as to accuse you of “pompous crap” for neglecting their experience though.

          There are “PLENTY of things that limit women’s access to wealth”. That is how things are but it is not how things ought to be. However, it does not follow that “not having commercial surrogacy isn’t one of them”. By “commercial surrogacy” you seem to mean an arrangement which causes women to be paid “lots of money to be a surrogate” and not merely “*slightly*” more. Nonetheless, preventing women from being paid much more money for surrogacy does limit their access to wealth

          1. Typo: for “normative” read “descriptive”

          2. I know of a lady who was a surrogate, William. She was paid but within the rules of reasonable expenses. She wouldn’t have been more likely to do it for bags of money. There were a number of things that affected her decision – money was way down that list.

            I’m sure offering sh*tloads of money would attract some women who wouldn’t otherwise consider it, but is that wise? And what of the gay men who want a surrogate but can’t afford to pay the commercial rate, which will, no doubt, increase due to a shortage of surrogates and competition for their services.

            Your comments pretend to defend women but you’re not really. You don’t seem to understand the real issues women have relating to inequality in society, nor do I get the impression that you’re concern is really with women.

            I already said women should receive sufficient payment, yet you seem argue against me then repeat that idea in your comment about installments. I think we agree more than you realise.

          3. “Nonetheless, preventing women from being paid much more money for surrogacy does limit their access to wealth”

            Well, yes, technically, of course. But not paying every woman in whatever job a minimum wage of £50 p.h does that too – as do lots of things! Not providing a job for every person in the UK limits ALL our access to wealth! I could go on.

            I think you’re arguing a technicality rather than a strong belief? That is, a personal and general viewpoint that you have. But I don’t think it’s necessarily relevant to surrogacy. Say, the slight increase I mentioned put the money paid up to £15,000 for sake of argument. What if the commercial rate was £50,000 (so as not to limit women’s access to wealth, you see ;) ). What about those people who couldn’t afford that? It could be women (born without a womb, for example) aswell as gay men who were disadvantaged. It would also severely dent the wealth of those women…

          4. It is not just a personal and general viewpoint that I have. My arguments are primarily informed by “Birth Power” by Carmel Shalev and the chapter “Sex” in “Sex and Social Justice” by M.C. Nussbaum. It is highly unfair, offensive, and pathetic of you to suggest that I neither really understand the issues nor am really concerned with women. I am and surely Shalev and Nussbaum (both feminist scholars) are too.

            You are right that some women do surrogacy for reasons which are primarily not about money. However, there are many women whose economic opportunities are very limited. For example, women for whom their only option of work is in a factory working for a low wage, for many hours, doing repetitive work which could be at least as dangerous as pregnancy. For women in these types of circumstances it is wrong to deny them the option of being a surrogate for a wage which is more than “slightly” greater than what they are currently allowed in the way of reasonable expenses.

          5. £50,000 is a straw man. Through commercial surrogacy in the US even the second surrogate of Elton John only received £20,000. This is less than the UK average wage. So, the astronomical fees you fear surrogates earning are highly unlikely. Not all women are the same and so not all women are suited for the same kind of work. How is this premise an argument against increasing the number and variety of job opportunities available to women? The greater the number and variety of job opportunities available to women the better especially if these jobs pay more than a meagre wage.

            The pink news article says: “…in Britain it is a criminal offence to pay a surrogate mother more than ‘reasonable expenses’ or to advertise you are seeking a surrogate or are willing to act as one. It means that many British gay couples are forced to travel to countries such as the US in order to use a professional agency”. The legal fees required by going to the US for surrogacy makes this unaffordable for many.

          6. I’ve not read those books, William, so I can’t comment on them. However, in *general* feminists don’t represent ‘everywoman’ they represent their own agendas so being a feminist is no guarantee that a woman really cares about all other women. That’s not to say that the books you refer to were written by people who didn’t care. I’m making a general comment not specifically about them.

            Many feminists talk about freedom & equality for women then denigrate women who choose to do other than what said feminists think worthwhile. I’m sick of feminists having a go at stay-at-home mothers, for example.

            But that’s another matter, so… Regarding the payment, do you know how much the maximum reasonable expenses a surrogate can receive is? It’s not peanuts by any means. It’s the commercialisation of surrogacy I object to, NOT women doing it or being paid a fair amount for doing so.

            For most women (in the UK) it’s not something they’d do – hence the shortage. Money won’t help that in my opinion.

          7. I agree that women should be paid “a fair amount” for being a surrogate. I do not think that payment “slightly” greater than reasonable expenses would count as fair. Reasonable expenses are limited to the costs incurred by the surrogate as a result of the pregnancy. They range from £12,000 to £15,000. Why should it be considered unfair if a surrogate earns more than “£15,000” but no more than say the UK average salary of £26,500? There is no cap on what a woman is allowed to earn in any other type of work so why impose one for surrogacy?

            It is clear you object to “the commercialization of surrogacy”. However, you have neither made it clear what you mean by “commercialization” nor why you object to this. Women make up about half the UK population and so most women not wanting to be surrogates need not create a shortage. It being illegal to advertise as or for a surrogate creates a shortage as those looking cannot find what they are looking for. Why shouldn’t such advertising be legal?

          8. Hi again, William. By the commercialisation of surrogacy I mean having a people or a business in the middle who profit from the surrogacy. With the woman I mentioned, there was a ‘middleman’ but that person made no money out of the surrogacy and merely put people in touch. I have no problem with that – facilitating surrogacy. It’s the making a profit out of it, I don’t like (if ‘like’ is the right word there).

            Why? That’s harder to explain partly because it’s a gut reaction – it doesn’t seem right to me that babies should be traded for money like that. Nor does it seem right that a middleman should profit from other people’s emotions – ie the drive to have a child of your own. Yes, some couples have to pay for IVF but there you’re paying for actual things (storage, drugs, implantation etc etc) whereas for a middleman in surrogacy you’d be paying for things that you could easily have/do yourself – that is, contact a potential surrogate.

          9. (continued) The non-profit ways of doing that might disappear with a business entering surrogacy and that’d disadvantage those who can’t pay or don’t want to.

            Why impose a cap on the payment for surrogacy? Maybe to discourage people making money from it or to discourage women who might not be wholly committed but attracted by the money when they wouldn’t have been by a smaller amount (that is, if the cap was significantly higher)? Also, I suppose to stop women setting their own rates and ‘taking advantage’ of those who may be desperate. I’ve read of cases where the surrogacy went wrong and greed was involved. Of course, the prospective parents can also act dishonourably too. That’s why the one thing I feel important is protection for all involved including the child.

            If Elton’s surrogate “only received £20,000” then that’s just £5,000 more than a UK surrogate could have been paid in theory. Again, I believe it’s the *shortage8 of surrogates in the UK that’s a problem, not the money.

          10. (Excuse length – you asked some interesting questions) Regarding the average wage, many women don’t earn that especially in certain areas. I live in a very less well off area, so you’d think that the chance of earning some money through surrogacy would be leapt on by some women here – but no. Again, very few women feel able to do it. That’s the real reason.

            Advertising? I don’t see a problem with that as long as it was ‘informative’ advertising – informing women they could be surrogates and detailing risks and procedures – rather than money-making advertising. Adverts advertsing non profit-making middlemen would be fine too, I feel – providing an initial contact. It might help regulation too, which is important.

            Also, things like the visa difficulty mentioned in the article should be sorted out.

          11. *NOTE – when I said above “Why impose a cap on the payment for surrogacy? Maybe to discourage people making money from it ” I didn’t mean the surrogates themselves, I meant outside agencies – ie businesses. I think it helps discourage commercialisation amongst other things.

          12. In IVF doctors get paid money and yet we do not object to this. In contrast, paying for human life becomes distasteful (only) when it is the surrogate who is the recipient of the money. This seems like a double standard. You have a “gut reaction” to the making of money out of surrogacy. This is understandable and a feeling I share. However, an intuitive reaction against something does not necessarily mean it is wrong. For example, people sometimes have a “gut reaction” against gay sex but this does not mean that there is anything wrong with gay sex. In gestational surrogacy it is not babies “being traded for money” but the service of pregnancy (as explained earlier).

          13. “Nor does it seem right that a middleman profit from other people’s emotions…” This may be true but middle men profiting from other’s emotions happens the whole time. For example, the multimillion £ wedding industry consists of middle men profiting from other people’s emotions. If you do not want middle men to profit from people’s emotions then you should have a blanket ban on (money making) advertising; not just advertising for surrogacy. If “money-making advertising” should be illegal then surely the vast majority (perhaps all) of advertising which currently occurs should be illegal. If this position is not one you want to defend why is surrogacy a special case?

          14. Without middlemen it is not easy for people to contact a surrogate themselves. Hence people going to the US to find surrogates in spite of the additional costs this causes. You seem to think the shortage of surrogates in the UK is inevitable. However, the “shortage” is partly because of advertising being illegal meaning surrogates and clients cannot find each other so easily. Also, there is no good reason to believe that UK women are somehow unique meaning that there will continue to be a shortage if surrogacy laws were reformed. In other countries with more of a free market in surrogacy such a shortage does not exist.

          15. Attaching monetary value to surrogacy need not make surrogates act “dishonourably”. There is no greater likelihood of surrogates acting out of a bad motive than people in any other form of paid employment. So, why impose a cap on what surrogates can earn and not what people can earn in other forms of employment? Very few women wanting to do surrogacy does not mean that the option of being a surrogate for around the average wage should not be there. Many women do not earn the average wage. If you want more women to be able to earn the average wage then surely surrogacy is one way of doing this. Surrogacy reform is not incompatible with other reforms to increase job opportunities for women to earn the average wage.

          16. “f you want more women to be able to earn the average wage then surely surrogacy is one way of doing this.”

            I’d have no problem with the cap on surrogacy being the average wage figure you quoted, William. Although I would point out the obvious that being a surrogate is not a career in that there are only a limited number of times a woman could do it or would want to do it.

            The shortage? Look, raising the money would only add a tiny number extra, but more information might add more, so the focus should be on advertising/information like I said above, yes? I think we agree there – that advertising is beneficial.

            I don’t know whether you’ve looked for a surrogate, but it’s not that hard to make contact with information sources on where to find one. I alluded to that above. There ARE people who connect potential parents with potential surrogates. All within the law, of course. Like I said above, making that easier to access would be fine and I don’t see any problem with that whatsoever.

          17. Why do people go to the US? I don’t know. Many reasons. I’d guess. Same with other countries too. Privacy might be one, or the mental ‘comfort’ of distance for some people, apart from more obvious reasons. Visa difficulties should be removed for those people.

            I don’t think (information-type) advertising should be banned, nor non-profit-type agencies. I’d guess the gov’s being ultra-cautious by doing that.

            It’s only the commercial/money-making aspect for any intermediary that I personally don’t like. Firstly, It’s not necessary because there are informal intermediary’s anyway. Secondly, those informal/free intermediary’s might be missed by prospective parents if we allow ‘big’ profit-seeking intermediaries/agencies to enter.

            You’re absolutely right in saying it’s the “service of pregnancy” that’s being paid for (and the service of birth too, I’d just add). That’s not a problem at all for me, payment for that. It also reminded me of another point regarding the shortgage of surrogates

          18. (Cont) You’d previously said “Women make up about half the UK population and so most women not wanting to be surrogates need not create a shortage” which is correct in theory, but not in reality because prospective parents may have (perfectly reasonable) selection criteria like the surrogate should already have had a child, and mainly because the women themselves have concerns regarding pregnany and birth that usually remove them from the numbers of potential surrogates, even if they’ve previously had a child – ie they’re not just ‘first timer’ fears.

            Although some women sail through pregnancy, most don’t in that there are a number of things that occur – varicose veins, stretch marks, body shape changes including permanent ones, issues relating to icontinence, more important medical issues, and general discomfort. For those reasons most women consider entering into a pregnancy seriously. The ‘reward’ of a child at the end does it for two or three times…

          19. ….but to not have that – to go through all that, plus giving birth, for someone else is a big thing to ask, even if the baby is not yours geneticallly (a donor egg).

            There are also other issues, which I think I called ’emotional’ above, but which it might be better to call personal/individual reasons eg does the woman have a partner? If so, does he/she mind? Does the women already have children of her own? Do they understand and what effect might the surrogacy have on them? Just some of the possible issues.

            Also, the woman herself might have concerns eg health, work (she may have a job), carrying a child for 9 months then ‘giving it away’ (even if it is unrelated), what to tell others, etc etc.

            It’s a big decision. Most ‘eligible’ women decide they can’t do it. Some women are happy to for various reasons – health-related; they were lucky enough to find pregnancy easy; personal circumstances eg family, money, etc But I honestly think that most women would NOT be a surrogate…

          20. …*That* is the major issue, in my opinion, not money, not advertising. Women have concerns, & getting another c.£10,000 (presuming they’d get £15,000 now but potentially the minimum wage level of £26,000) would only persuade a tiny number of that *already* tiny number of potential surrogates to change their minds & be a surrogate. Yes, of course, that’s still beneficial – more surrogates. But it’s no quick-fix to the shortage.

            I suppose I see the idea of extra cash as ‘missing the point’ and as misunderstanding the concerns of most women. Most empathise hugely with those who want a baby but can’t have one, yet they still don’t feel able to be a surrogate themselves.

            I’m sorry if I snapped at you previously. It was more the idea mooted rather than what you said. My comment should have been more generally directed.The issues of surrogacy for women are far more complicated than money. I’m not suggesting you don’t know that – not at all. So for me commercialisation is not the answer.

  7. Those are the drama quees who stood on the roof of their car in a 3ft flood. They should not reproduce

  8. Oh dear God no, not them again.

  9. I feel the whole idea of introducing the word ‘commercial’ into creating children to be really really wrong.

    Not least because of the ENORMOUS amount of children awaiting adoption in the UK.

    There is a vanity i think in thinking that we ‘need children’ in order to make a ‘proper’ relationship (read ‘pretend str8 relationship’…)

    Schlepping around the world flashing cash and collecting babies is wrong.

    There are so many children that need a loving family. I would urge people to consider adoption.

    1. Of course there are many children who would do better if they were adopted. Apart from that, what a homophobic and bigoted comment. Shame on you!

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