Why this story matters:
Surrogacy is banned in many European countries, including Austria. But that does not prevent desperate couples from giving it a try. National laws are easy to circumvent by using online platforms. Even if there are no reliable statistics on the situation in Austria, it is clear that surrogacy is also a reality in this country.
Surrogacy is a delicate ethical question that touches upon biological and social parenting, identity and the monetization of women's bodies.
The social debates are still in their infancy, but biotechnology is running far ahead of them.
The question also brings up an array of difficult moral dilemmas. For example, should surrogate mothers be able to change their minds at any time, including during pregnancy and after childbirth?
The article below features experts, skeptics and advocates giving their opinion on one of the most controversial jobs a woman can have.
Details from the story:
- Both commercial and voluntary surrogacy are allowed in Russia, Ukraine, some US states and South Africa, Australia, Canada, Sweden and India. A full ban applies in most Western European countries -- including Austria.
- Unlike in Germany, physicians in Austria can recommend institutions abroad. Reproductive medicine has become a lucrative business sector. Depending on the country and situation, couples pay between 5,000 and 100,000 euros.
- "Surrogacy is exploitation," argues the Austrian platform "Stop surrogacy". Their petition, launched this spring, calls for a global ban on the controversial practice.
- The social and economic gap between parents and surrogate mothers can be ethically problematic.
- Feminist positions on the subject are ambiguous: for the Viennese philosopher Birge Krondorfer surrogacy means a "crude combination of technology and profit", women's bodies are used as "raw material" and commercialized. The situation is different for British author and feminist Laurie Penny. Everything depends on the practical application, she says.