The renting of wombs, known as surrogacy, is akin to prostitution and the exploitation done to women often go unrecognized by the public, campaigners opposed to the practice say.
"A surrogate pregnancy is, naturally, a high-risk pregnancy," as a result of all of the medical technologies and drugs needed to make one happen, said Jennifer Lahl in her remarks at the Heritage Foundation Monday during a panel on the casualties of surrogacy.
"A woman's body is not designed to carry another woman's baby," Lahl said.
Yet surrogacy is almost always heralded as a beautiful, wonderful thing, she said, glamorized in the media by Hollywood celebrities like Jimmy Fallon and Kim Kardashian. The reality of surrogacy, however, is a multitude of health risks and psychological and medical harms.
Lahl is the founder of the California-based Center for Bioethics and Culture and an advocate for women who have been exploited in commercially contracted pregnancies, which are often transnational.
"If you want to get a new puppy or a new cat, a baby kitten, it is required — it is actually seen as cruelty to animals and inhumane to remove that newborn animal from its mother. You have to wait six to eight weeks by law in the state of California to adopt a puppy or a little baby kitten."
"As a pediatric nurse, I know that maternal-child bonding is good, normal, and natural, and encouraged — except where surrogacy ignores and waves all those important bonds away with the narrative being 'the kids are all right.'"
Exploitation and abuse of women who agree to be surrogates receive no critical attention in media outlets or by government bodies, she said, even when horrors such as death happen.
When Brook Brown, a surrogate mother, died along with the twins she was carrying as a result of a pregnancy complication called placental abruption, Lahl wrote the Idaho attorney general's office and the media but received no response.