Surrogacy Laws Cruelly Treat Children As Commodities

Melissa Musick Nussbaum

It is not a religious fundamentalism that is fueling the surrogacy industry, but rather a consumer culture in which children are simply another commodity. This consumer culture takes its cues from the celebrities who model it for the rest of us as an aspirational brand. This dystopian world will be on trial for everyone to see if the Supreme Court grants cert in the case C.M. v. M.C..

The United States is second only behind India in the number of women who serve as pregnancy surrogates. Who are these women? Well, for starters, they aren't rich. The average payment is around $30,000. The current issue of New York Magazine reports that Kardashian and West are paying their surrogate $45,000. So, let's split the difference. Carrying a child is nine months of work, 30 days a month, 24 hours a day. (No pregnant woman gets to revert to her un-pregnant self in order to get a good night's sleep.) At $37,500, that's 6,480 hours at roughly $5.80 an hour with no overtime, less than minimum wage. Less than minimum wage for work that can carry health risks (see the $2,500 allowance for a caesarean delivery on the Fertility Source Companies website.) Less than minimum wage paid by the very elites who are careful to drink only fair trade coffee and who advocate a $15-an-hour minimum wage, almost four times what the average surrogate earns. And certainly far less than $4.5 million Kardashian's engagement ring cost.

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