Surrogate 'slave' scandal in US

Xavier Symons
April 1, 2017
Reproduced with Permission

A 47-year old Florida woman has been jailed after holding a Mexican surrogate "captive" in a bid to get her pregnant.

Esthela Clark stands accused by authorities of physically abusing a 26-year-old surrogate woman and forcing her to have sex with strangers.

Clark met the woman in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2012, where she promised her $4000 in exchange for acting as a surrogate.

Clarke arranged for the woman to be brought from Mexico to Jacksonville, Florida, and then attempted to inseminate the woman herself rather than seek medical help.

Initially Clark's boyfriend provided sperm which Clark used to inseminate the woman, but she failed to fall pregnant after repeated attempts. Clark turned to strangers to help the surrogate conceive a child.

Clark is believed to have held the woman captive in her one-room apartment until mid-2015 when an acquaintance intervened and rescued the woman.

Clark has also been charged with alien smuggling, as she organised to have the surrogate smuggled illegally into the US in 2012. She pleaded guilty on Monday to a single count of forced labour charge in a plea deal announced by acting United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow.

In late 2016 surrogacy for foreigners was banned in the Mexican state of Tabasco (the only Mexican state to allow surrogacy). Commercial surrogacy is restricted in most US states, with the notable exception of California.