Remember surrogate mothering? Rent-a-womb? Paying someone (usually someone poor) to have your baby for you? Most people frown on it. It's illegal in some places. Well, according to the Christian Science Monitor, the latest grim story from the world of Brave New Medicine takes us all the way to India for the ultimate in outsourcing.

Of course, like so many disturbing applications of the new technologies that have given humans fresh choices for good and evil, it is a "kindler, gentler" horror. It isn't abortion; it doesn't kill babies (although, of course, in vitro fertilization does result in loss of life for embryos, either by accident or through the "quality control" that tends to go with it). And the woman who agrees to bear the child does so voluntarily. She is paid for her efforts. She may be very glad for the work and may find it fulfilling, as it helps another family end up with a child. So kind, so gentle.

According to the story, India has become a Mecca for surrogacy, which is now an industry bringing in nearly half a billion dollars a year:

"A year ago, the couple flew down from London to this dusty, unremarkable town to choose a surrogate mother. They are part of a growing number of childless foreigners beating a track to India, drawn here for many of the same reasons that have made India a top destination for medical tourism: low costs, highly-qualified doctors, and a more relaxed legal atmosphere."

Note the ironic commentary: a "more relaxed legal atmosphere," that together with "low costs" has made India the place to go. In fact, the couple now has a website up and running telling their story and encouraging others to do likewise.

The surrogate mother, Reshma, sounds both kind and gentle (as well as poor): "I have ...

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Life Matters
Nigel M. de S. Cameron is now president and CEO of the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies. His "Life Matters" column, a commentary on bioethics issues, ran from 2005 to 2006.
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