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One day, paid surrogacy will be mainstream

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/1/2012 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,938 times Debate No: 26782
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
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Already, lots of celebrities are paying surrogates to bear their children. The main reasons are infertility and/or being in a male homosexual relationship. As it becomes more normal, however, women are going to choose this option to avoid difficult and finally uncomfortable pregnancies. In the olden days, babies were raised by wet-nurses. The technology for surrogates didn't exist in those days.
People can buy organs illegally, but surrogacy is not as ugly because pregnancy is a natural process. In theory, a woman can be a surrogate without any negative consequences.
This is NOT an argument about whether paid surrogacy is desirable or not, but rather its likelihood. I think it will be mainstream within a generation.


Thank you for instigating this debate and I look forward to it.

However, you did not define "mainstream" or "surrogacy", so I define them as follows:

1. the principal or dominant course, tendency, or trend

To have an unaffiliated third party carry a child to term.

It is up to you, Pro, to prove that surrogacy will become more popular than the status quo of child bearing.

Reasons why it will not overtake conventional child bearing:
1.Lack of control.
Not only is there no guarantee that the surrogate will give up the child peacefully, there is no real way to control dietary intake. Sure, you can have a contract that says the surrogate can"t smoke or drink, but that doesn"t mean she will honor it.

2.Emotional attachment.
Not only is there the possibility of the surrogate"s emotional attachment causing problems down the road, there is no maternal response to the child from the "mother".

3.Cost and mistrust.
Not many people can and will pay someone living/medical expenses for nine months in hopes they honor a contract. If all goes well, not many people can then also afford to pay the surrogate for their efforts. I don"t think most people would pay $20,000 in labor (pun intended) plus any expenses like living and medical (probably another $20,000 or more, depending on where they live, what they eat, and if insurance covers labor).
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for your arguments and for defining the terms.

A working woman will save money by having a surrogate bear her child. Not only will she not need time off work, but employers will have the security of knowing that women of child-bearing age won't be taking maternity leave. Once surrogacy becomes at all normal, there will be subtle pressure on women responsible positions to take that path. This will lead to women who want to bear their own children being labelled as "opting out" or being "stretch mark and granola" types.

It will become a feminist issue. Why, in this day and age should a woman sacrifice herself in pregnancy? Taking time out from work for babies is irreparably damaging to many women's careers, letting men leap unfairly ahead. Paid surrogacy will be seen as a good way of leveling the playing field.

Pregnant mothers need to rest. Would a busy executive be able to devote herself physically to the pregnancy? Wouldn't it be better to leave it to someone who can devote herself entire to rest and gentle exercise? Everyone knows that a difficult birth can be dangerous for a baby. Wouldn't it be better to leave to someone who has already had several successful drug-free natural births? These are the sorts of arguments that women will hear.

If rich women start to pay surrogates to bear their children, then they will savagely defend the procedure. Articles will start to appear in magazines poking fun at the "martyrs" who bear their own children, despite evidence that the right surrogate is actually better for the baby's health.

Does physically bearing the child have any affect on attachment? As far as I know, there is no evidence at all to suggest that it does. In fact, you could argue that a mother who has not gone through pregnancy and childbirth is more rested, healthier, and therefore more capable of responding to her child in a devoted and loving fashion.

At the moment there is no guarantee that the surrogate will give up the child peacefully, it's true. All that's required, however, is a chance in legislation.
Parents don't have any control over what happens to their children in childcare, but childcare is still mainstream. Surrogacy will be treated the same way. Parents will check the surrogates credentials. They will make sure she has born babies previously. They will check up on other satisfied customers. They will insist on a dietary log. They will be able to inspect her house. There might even be surrogacy agencies that do all the checking for them. In this way, anxiety will be alleviated.


Basically, I agree with your points as to why surrogacy would spread and raise in popularity. However, you need to demonstrate that it would be the new norm, not simply be accepted. Furthermore, if you do a Google search for surrogate agencies, the top three websites are companies that have been in business for at least 16 years. There is legislation and laws protecting those wronged by a surrogate. However, surrogacy is not a booming industry, even though its legitimacy has been proven.

The reason, most pregnancies are unplanned. They are either "meh, a kid wouldn't be so bad, but I'm not working at it" or completely accidental and generally unwanted. For surrogacy to become mainstream, you need to show that 1)most pregnancies are planned, and 2) these planned pregnancies would more likely use surrogates than not.

I still find it difficult to believe that a woman, whose natural biological response is to have a baby, would by and large choose to ignore this innate impulse.

Quick Rebuttal to your points:

You mention business-driven women. They are most likely to use a surrogate; however, they are also more likely to forgo having a family, too. Shallow women, perhaps rich housewives, would likely use a surrogate, though.

Feminists may use surrogates to promote an equal playing field, but this also fundementally attacks a woman being a woman. Feminists seem to care more about women not being housewives, more than not getting pregnant; a strong woman is one who carries a child while working, gives birth, then hits the ground running. This would make them better than a man.

Pregnant mothers need rest, but you assume that a surrogate doesn't also have another job. If women were traditionally housewives, then a pregnancy isn't as big an ordeal as being pregnent while working for someone else.

Surrogates have been around for decades, are women poking fun of the martyrs yet?

The child bearing vs. dis-attachment issue is difficult to show either way. However, as evidence, we can look to stepparents as being unattached to their stepchildren. Furthermore, we can use attachments to those with nannies. Stereotypically, these are not good environments (not bad, just not ideal).

Pro has the BOP, and has not yet met it. There is no way that surrogates will be the predominant trend over unplanned pregnancies.

Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 2


Summary: commercial surrogacy will become mainstream

Most mothers need to work, or want to work. Most pregnancies are planned. Commercial surrogacy will be economically and practically convenient for many parents. Surrogacy presents no risks to mother-child attachment. The main barriers to commercial surrogacy are the current chaos in relation to law and regulations, and social convention. These barriers will be easily overcome. Commercial surrogacy will soon be a normal, conventional option for prospective parents.

For evidence, please read on.

Most mothers of small children are working

A recent US census report shows that more than half (54%) of mothers with children under five are working. Another 11% are either in school or actively looking for work. Only 39% of mothers are currently caring for their small children full time.

It works both ways. Mothers who are working because they are in careers that are important to them and pay a lot are in a position to hire a surrogate. Mothers who don’t want to leave their children but must for economic reasons are likely to be surrogates.

Who's Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2010 (SIPP 2008)

most pregnancies are planned

Just over half of all pregnancies are planned. About half the unplanned pregnancies are aborted. Therefore, roughly two thirds of pregnancies that go to term are planned.

There is no biological urge to be pregnant

There is a biological urge to have sex, and there is a biological urge to care for a baby once it is born. There is no biological urge to be pregnant because until very recently, this was not a decision that mammals had control over.

The maternal instinct is very strong, but it applies only to babies, not fetuses. The difference becomes obvious when you compare society attitudes to abortion and infanticide.

Mother-child attachment occurs shortly after birth

Parent-child attachment occurs shortly after birth for up to about two years. This is why babies who are adopted can form very strong relationships with their adopting parents, while foster relationships and step-parent relationships are often, notoriously, problematic.

Note, attachment does not occur in utero.

Here are some references.

“Infants become attached to individuals who are sensitive and responsive in social interactions with them, and who remain as consistent caregivers for some months during the period from about six months to two years of age.”

“Children who are adopted after the age of six months are at risk for attachment problems.”

surrogacy legislation is inconsistent and chaotic

There are legislation and laws related to surrogacy arrangements, but they differ from state to state in the US, and from country to country around the world. In many countries, including mine, commercial surrogacy is illegal, but people can still make arrangements with surrogates overseas. A recent article in the American Bar Association Journal complained about the legal "chaos" of surrogacy.

As laws become more consistent and secure, people will be more willing to take part in surrogacy arrangements.

The main barrier to surrogacy is social convention, which will change

“I still find it difficult to believe that a woman, whose natural biological response is to have a baby, would by and large choose to ignore this innate impulse.”

“Shallow women, perhaps rich housewives, would likely use a surrogate, though.”

These quotes from Khaos_Mage in round two are good examples of the main barrier to surrogacy: convention. Surrogacy is unnatural and shallow to many people at the moment.

Once upon a time, women quit work as soon as they got married. Nice girls didn’t even know what contraception was. Abortion was illegal. Certainly, mothers of small children didn’t go out to work if they could afford to stay at home.

Attitudes to all these things have changed, and quickly. Attitudes to commercial surrogacy will change too.

‘Mainstream’ means ‘normal or conventional’

My Compact Oxford English Dictionary (2002) defines 'mainstream' as 'normal or conventional ideas, attitudes or activities'. It does not mean 'the principal or dominant course'. For example, a type of music can be mainstream without being the number one best seller. Therefore, surrogacy can be mainstream if a lot of people do it, if it doesn't cause surprise, if people routinely consider it when they're thinking of starting a family.

I was surprised by your definition in round one, but I wrongly assumed it must be one of those American/English differences, like "momentarily", and since this is an American website I thought I would just have to go along with it. However, out of interest, I put "mainstream" into the search engines at the New York Times and USA Today, and in the articles that came up, "mainstream" was always used to mean "normal and conventional" rather than "the principal or dominant course". I have been happily using for years, but I'm going to regard it with suspicion from now on.

Here are the examples from the US papers.

From The New York Times
“[ALTIMA] NISSAN A more mainstream approach for a midsize model that has been selling briskly”

"Finding a sprouts-on-seven-grain-bread sandwich has never been a problem in Los Angeles, but even a few years ago, the vegan chef and cookbook author Tal Ronnen couldn’t imagine that his specialty would go as mainstream as it has of late."

"a prominent member of the Mormon church, J.W. Marriott Jr., told his congregation on Sunday that the Romneys were helping to lead the church…"out of obscurity and into the mainstream."


"And based on the past 50 years of stock market data, the riskiest mainstream asset class for investors are shares of small growth companies."

"These performance versions of mainstream [car] models represent a move to more efficient, sometimes smaller, engines."

"His solo debut, "Formula Vol. 1," reached the Top 10 on the mainstream Billboard chart and even features a duet with Usher that dominated Latin radio for weeks."



Thank you for the debate, I enjoyed it.

My opponent has dropped two key arguments:
1. Surrogacy has been around for over 20 years in America, and has shown no signs of booming to demonstrate that it will become too much more popular.
2. The attachment issue. He addresses the attachment of the child, but disregards any attachment issues on the mother's end. He does state that step-parents' relationships are problematic, but pins that on the child, not the step-parent, which is the point I brought up.

Furthermore, my opponent has decided to change the definition of the word mainstream in the final round. He cites a "language barrier", so I will address both definitions.
1. Using my opponent's definition, in America and in other countries, he cites that surrogacy is normal, as it is legislated "chaotically", even where it is illegal it is allowed. This would mean that surrogacy is already "conventional", as I have stated, it has been around for decades in America, and for those who cannot have a child, I am certain it is recommended. It is legitimized where it is legal.

Since it is conventional and normal already, it will not "will be mainstream" later, it may be more accepted, but it is mainstream now, so my opponent loses by failing to prove that surrogacy will, at a later date, BECOME mainstream, it already is, and may continue to be.

2. Using my definition, the fact that surrogacy laws are around, even if "chaotic", legitimizes the practice, yet there is no evidence of a growing trend, thus it is not, nor will it be, mainstream. My opponents has not offered evidence to show that surrogacy will become legal in countries where it is not, nor a trend in substantially more people using surrogacy. The fact that laws are inconsistent among states and countries is irrelevant, as many laws are (like marriage); however, the fact that there are laws has legitimized surrogacy, and I am sure people will continue to use this practice, but not in significant numbers to warrant a "predominant trend".

You must vote Con, if for no other reason, Pro has failed to meet his BOP. Pro has mostly stated why surrogacy is good and will be used, but no compelling arguments were made to indicate a rise in use.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by wrichcirw 5 years ago
One final comment...I've read about new technology that cryofreezes eggs, thus extending a woman's reproductive ability beyond menopause. I think it will be an extremely important technology for working women that would like to have a family eventually, and will catapult surrogate birthing's popularity: (I read a piece somewhere but this will have to do for now).

This broadens even further the socioeconomic ramifications of surrogate birthing, as one could imagine the poor volunteering to birth babies while the rich work for more money and more influence. Both surrogate birthing and egg cryofreezing are pricey procedures, and I would imagine that at least the former will continue to be costly going forward.
Posted by wrichcirw 5 years ago
This was a great debate, well mannered and well presented.

I can see a pattern in how PRO argues now, her evidence always hits at the end and it hits hard lol...

1) "Mainstream now" vs. "Mainstream later" was weakly argued by both sides, so inconclusive here.
2) CON's point about parental attachment is also what I was thinking about regarding this issue. I've seen one news program about this a while back, and what stuck on my mind was that the surrogate mom had what would otherwise be an unnatural attachment to the newborn, and was indeed treated like family by the "real" parents for some time after delivery.
3) Not entirely certain there is not a biological urge to become pregnant. I've read that women "want it" more at certain times of their cycle, and that these times correspond to the optimal conditions for becoming pregnant. Men of course have no such clock.
4) In the end, a very interesting and well-argued debate. PRO sourced heavily in the final round, and that is what won it in my opinion, had I been allowed to vote on this. I fully agree that there are social and legislative issues that need to be ironed out before this becomes "mainstream".

Personally I can see it causing a class issue...working moms vs. surrogate moms, and IMHO the latter will become either stigmatized or marginalized/commodified, and as PRO stated even outsourced. I'm thinking of the chickens in a hen house in all of those fast food documentaries that do their duty in atrocious conditions. This can cause some serious backlash, as we're no longer talking about chickens laying eggs, but humans birthing babies in an efficient, low-cost, <insert your corporate term here> manner.

I can see how debating can be a friendly venue if they all went like this. Personally I will be surprised if I EVER have a debate this well-mannered unless it was a landslide, in my favor of course. :D

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