The world’s most influential news magazine has given commercial surrogacy full-throated support. Under the headline “Carrying a child for someone else should be celebrated—and paid”, The Economist argues that a market for babies gestated by surrogate mothers, carefully regulated by governments, is a necessary development. Some countries, like Sweden, have banned it completely; others, like India, have banned foreign clients.
These restrictions are harmful [says The Economist in its leader]. By pushing surrogacy to the legal fringes, they make it both more dangerous and more costly, and create legal uncertainty for all, especially the newborn baby who may be deemed parentless and taken into care. Instead, giving the gift of parenthood to those who cannot have it should be celebrated—and regulated sensibly.
Getting surrogacy right matters more than ever, since demand is rising.Oddly enough for a magazine whose bread and butter is statistics, there are few firm figures in The Economist’s discussion of the issue. Demand is rising – but there were only 2,200 surrogacies in the US in 2014. On the source of the demand the magazine sheds no light at all. There are more single men, infertile couples, and gay couples having babies, obviously, but the proportion is unknown.
The Economist makes little effort to defend the ethics of surrogacy, other than that a smoothly functioning market and a light regulatory hand will succeed in making clients happy, while banning it will only force the market underground. “Becoming a parent should be a joy, not an offence,” it concludes.
It mentions nothing about hotly-debated topics like the commodification of human life, the tangled identity of the child, or the exploitation of the surrogate mothers
Saturday, May 20, 2017
The Economist is the world’s best news magazine. Its stylish, intelligent and well-informed coverage has made it the Bible of the global elite. “I used to think. Now I just read The Economist,” the former CEO of Oracle, Larry Ellison, once said.
Part of its appeal is its ideological consistency. Ever since 1843 The Economist has argued that aim of public policy should be to promote the market economy as the best way of achieving prosperity and democracy. A light touch of government regulation is needed only to ensure fairness and legal certainty. Thus it embodies the “classical 19th-century Liberal ideas” which made Britain, and later the United States, a bulwark of capitalism.
Whatever the merits of this ideology in framing public policy for economics and finance, it is ill-suited to questions of personal behaviour.
In principle The Economist supports all autonomous action which is either harmless (in its view) or profitable. Hence, in recent years it has thrown its considerable prestige behind campaigns for the legalisation and regulation of drugs, pornography, prostitution, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage.
And this month it has taken up cudgels in favour of an international market in surrogate mothers and babies. “Carrying a child for someone else should be celebrated—and paid”, is the defiant headline of its editorial. Given the magazine’s influence, this is a significant development. What do you think of it?
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