Surrogacy today is a truly worldwide phenomenon, thanks to medical advances that have allowed the procedure to become quite routine. But the legality of it is a very different issue. It’s actually illegal in places across the globe, whether in Europe, the Middle East or Asia. Even in the U.S., the law varies by state.
But, despite the complexities of the issue, we were drawn to the personal story of a 20-year-old woman in Vietnam. She was a struggling garment factory worker who decided to bear the child of a couple who had been married for 10 years and were unable to conceive.
Seeking a better life
The reason she did it? Money — to help her get out of her very difficult personal circumstances. With her father passed away and her mother in an institution, she was responsible for two younger siblings, even at her young age. She was making only about $140 a month, but was given the chance to make about $15,000 to help the couple wanting a child. “I would do it just one time to have money so I can start a stable business at home,” she said. See the link below to the story that ran this week in Thanh Nien, a newspaper based in Ho Chi Minh City.
It was a bold decision she made, considering the legal landscape. Unlike the U.S., where surrogacy is allowed in most states, surrogate pregnancy is illegal in many parts of Asia. In Vietnam, it is banned yet the practice is common because there are women willing to do it as a ticket to a better life.
And, seeking out poor women
In Vietnam, brokers seek out poor women in rural areas or at factories who see this as an opportunity to improve their lives.
It can be a risky business. A year ago, authorities in neighboring Thailand busted a syndicate that had lured 15 Vietnamese women into the illegal activity. Those behind the operation were arrested but the women were later repatriated. Despite the risks, many women are still willing to do it. In fact, there are websites where Vietnamese women advertise the service.
A win-win situation?
A Vietnamese broker featured in the Thanh Nien article has been in the business for nearly 10 years and has provided the service to 40 couples. She said her job may sound a bit like human trafficking, but she said that it solves some people’s problems and without its ethical considerations, the practice seems like a win-win proposition.
“The service helps end the big financial difficulties faced by countryside women such as factory workers or maids in large cities. More important, it brings happiness of being parents to sterile couples,” says the broker.
What’s the takeaway here? It’s a true dilemma, an issue involving moral and ethical implications. But, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for a 20-year-old trying to help her family, while helping another.