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Parenthood and Surrogacy: Ethical and Societal Issues


The societal implications of surrogacy are highly intricate and demand serious attention. The recent Supreme Court ruling, which overturned the ban on using donor gametes for women affected by Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser syndrome, has elicited joy from the affected couples, but it is poised to have profound and widespread repercussions in our society.


GS 2-

  • Issues Related to Women
  • Government Policies & Interventions
  • Issues Arising Out of Design & Implementation of Policies
  • Social Empowerment


Mains Question:

Surrogacy raises a multitude of complex ethical concerns related to gender, employment, compensation, exploitation, and inequality. Analyse. (15 marks, 250 words).

About Surrogacy

There are two primary forms of surrogacy: traditional and gestational surrogacy.

Traditional surrogacy:

  • Traditional surrogacy involves artificially impregnating the surrogate mother with the intended father’s sperm, making her both the genetic and gestational mother.
  • In this method, the surrogate’s own eggs are used, resulting in a genetic connection to the child.

Gestational Surrogacy:

  • On the other hand, gestational surrogacy entails implanting an embryo, created through in vitro fertilization, into the uterus of a surrogate mother who carries and gives birth to the baby. In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate is not genetically related to the child.
  • The embryo is formed using genetic material from the intended parents or donors. The categorization of surrogacy as commercial or altruistic hinges on whether the surrogate receives financial compensation for her pregnancy.
  • Only a handful of countries, like India and Ukraine, permit commercial surrogacy. India, due to its relatively low costs, has emerged as a popular destination for fertility tourism, attracting couples from around the world seeking assisted reproductive techniques.

Need of Surrogacy

  • Globally, the incidence of infertility is on the rise, with the World Health Organization reporting that approximately 17.5% of the adult population, roughly one in six people worldwide, grapple with infertility.
  • This underscores the urgency of advancing assisted reproductive techniques (ART), such as in vitro fertilization and surrogacy.
  • Surrogacy is often seen as a potential remedy for infertility or an alternative to adoption, thus garnering considerable celebration for enabling individuals to achieve their dream of parenthood.
  • Surrogacy can be seen as an extension of reproductive rights, providing a means for individuals and couples to have children when traditional methods are unattainable.
  • It can be a lifeline for those grappling with infertility, same-sex couples, and individuals unable to carry a pregnancy for medical reasons.

Ethical concerns associated with surrogacy


  • Critics contend that surrogacy may lead to the commodification of women’s bodies, particularly in commercial surrogacy arrangements where surrogates receive compensation.
  • Concerns about exploitation, coercion, and unequal power dynamics between surrogates and intended parents are prevalent.
  • Unfortunately, it is often women from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds who bear the brunt of surrogacy arrangements.
  • They may need to sacrifice their own lives to fulfill the desires of affluent couples. During the surrogacy period, they are often isolated from their own families to avoid societal stigma.
  • There is frequently an exploitative relationship between fertility clinics and intermediaries who lure financially vulnerable women with promises of payment, most of which ultimately goes to these intermediaries.
  • In the event of any health issues arising from the pregnancy, neither the hospital nor the intended parents tend to provide adequate care for these underprivileged women.

Psychological effects

  • Carrying another person’s child can give rise to a host of psychological issues for the surrogate mother.
  • Surrogacy can also have profound emotional and psychological effects on all parties involved, including the surrogate, intended parents, and potentially the child.
  • The dynamics of parent-child relationships in surrogacy can be intricate, raising questions about genetic and gestational connections, as well as the emotional bond between the child and the surrogate.
  • Surrogacy challenges traditional notions of family by involving multiple parties in the reproductive process.


Rather than regarding impoverished women as mere “breeding factories,” it is essential to explore alternative methods such as adoption or emerging technologies like artificial wombs to meet the parenting needs of prospective couples.

December 2023