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The Information: Wombs for rent

By Tara Kelly

Infertile couples from all over the world are flocking east in search of surrogate mothers to make their dreams of parenthood a reality. Low wages and accommodating laws already make countries such as Russia and India attractive places to do business – and commercial surrogacy, where the surrogate mother accepts payment for carrying a baby, is no exception.

The most expensive country in the world for commissioning a commercial surrogacy is the US, where the average cost is around $100,000. Small wonder that other countries seem so appealing, as relative costs plummet. Surrogacy deals are generally bundled into packages: price tags typically include all medical and legal fees, identification of the surrogate mother and her fee.

Some medical ethicists argue that the $455m a year industry is a distasteful commercialisation of the womb that could lead to the exploitation of surrogates.

Surrogacy advocates, on the other hand, argue that the concept can be traced as far back as biblical times and is simply one woman helping another out under a mutually beneficial agreement.