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90 Washington Law Review Online 7 (2015)


The surrogacy debate often conflates what should be seen as three distinct issues: the permissibility of the practice under any circumstances, the role of for-profit intermediaries in arranging surrogacy, and the role of compensation in influencing decision-making.

For those who see surrogacy as intrinsically objectionable, nothing short of a total ban will suffice. For those who object to the commodification of reproduction or to the role of for-profit agencies in recruiting surrogates, however, the solutions lie in regulation rather than prohibition. Commercial agencies, unlike infertile couples who enter into arrangements with their friends and relatives, are repeat players. They are in a better position to institutionalize appropriate practices and instantiate acceptable norms than are parties driven by the desire to produce a child.

We conclude that much of the objection to commercial surrogacy involves the practice’s growing pains. In the end, commercial agencies, particularly if they are subject to regulations that require transparency and provide oversight, may promote human dignity as well as, or better than, individually negotiated altruistic arrangements.