Failed surrogate conceptions: social and ethical aspects of preconception disruptions during commercial surrogacy in India

BackgroundDuring a commercial surrogacy arrangement, the event of embryo transfer can be seen as the formal starting point of the arrangement. However, it is common for surrogates to undergo a failed attempt at pregnancy conception or missed conception after an embryo transfer. This paper attempts to argue that such failed attempts can be understood as a loss. It aims to reconstruct the experiences of loss and grief of the surrogates and the intended parents as a consequence of their collective failure to conceive a surrogate pregnancy.MethodsDrawing on a qualitative study conducted over a period of eight months between 2014 and 2015 at two fertility clinics in Delhi and two in Kolkata, India, this paper examines the experiences of the surrogates and the intended parents when faced with missed conceptions or failed conceptions during a surrogacy arrangement.ResultsWe argue that while the surrogate grieves the non-arrival of a ‘good news’ as an uncertain loss, the intended parents experience yet another, failure in addition to the losses they might have incurred during their previous fertility treatments. The body of the surrogate becomes a site of ‘a lost opportunity’. The surrogate embodies a loss in her quest to achieve social mobility and the intended parents experience a disembodied pregnancy loss. This very emotional experience stands in stark contrast to the conceptualisation of such failed attempts as non-events within the discourse of the surrogacy industry. The experience of loss of the intended parents is recognised but their grief is given no space. We argue that such ambiguity around the nature of losses resulting out of a missed or failed conception during surrogacy is an outcome of lack of interpersonal relationship between the surrogate and the intended parents.ConclusionsSince commercial surrogacy is a relational process, the only way in which the experiences of losses and failures of the actors at the preconception stage can be better addressed is through developing close sharing and understanding between each other through an ethics of care. Therefore, to nurture caring relationships, surrogacy needs to be understood as a moral commitment by –the surrogates and intended parents. To enable such a commitment, there is a need to reconsider the pre-defined and legally regulated professional duty of the doctors, agents and agencies. It cannot be a one-sided commitment, but has to have elements of mutuality.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1186/s13010-016-0040-6
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 44,293
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Responsibility for Justice.Iris Marion Young - 2011 - Oxford University Press USA.

View all 9 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Rethinking “Commercial” Surrogacy in Australia.Jenni Millbank - 2015 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 12 (3):477-490.
Questioning South Africa’s ‘Genetic Link’ Requirement for Surrogacy.Thaddeus Metz - 2014 - South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 7 (1):34-39.
Surrogate Motherhood: A Trust-Based Approach.Katharina Beier - 2015 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 40 (6):633-652.


Added to PP index

Total views
10 ( #736,289 of 2,271,453 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #571,397 of 2,271,453 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature