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A Dire Threat to Women’s Health and Equality: Why Commercial Surrogacy is a Violation of Human Rights

In Susan Dominus’s stunning report on commercial surrogacy in Ukraine (“It’s a Terrible Thing When a Grown Person Does Not Belong to Herself,” 3 May 2022), the fraught and dangerous mental and physical impact of surrogacy on mothers is evident. Regrettably, however, Dominus did not take the opportunity to scrutinize the parallel horrors now occurring in the U.S. wherever surrogacy is legalized, notably in California and New York.

American surrogate mothers also face myriad challenges, including acute negative outcomes from high-risk pregnancies, post-partum depression, or even death by amniotic embolism. The COVID-19 pandemic left many surrogates caring for babies past their “sell by” date due to travel restrictions.

As we face dark chapters for women’s rights to health and to equality, it is incomprehensible that states would normalize the commodification of disenfranchised mothers. When New York has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality worldwide, increasing risks of maternal morbidity for the profit of a multi-billion-dollar reproductive technology industry is unconscionable. In this country too, which is not at war, surrogate mothers do not belong to themselves.


Taina Bien-Aimé
Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
New York, NY



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