Military Wives Used as 'Breeder Stock' by Surrogacy Industry

(Flickr/Tercer Ojo)

Commercial surrogacy in the United States is not just growing, it is actually thriving on the use of military wives as "breeders" with a taxpayer-funded health insurance covering the pregnancy and childbirth costs of surrogate pregnancies for contracting buyers, according to The Witherspoon Institute.

"Drawing on patriarchal stereotypes, surrogates are presented as selfless, giving women who exist only to be of service to others … In reality, commercial surrogacy is a predatory, profit-driven industry that preys on marginalized women, creating a breeder class for the wealthy, be they heterosexual or homosexual," writes Kathleen Sloan in an article, "Trading on the Female Body: Surrogacy, Exploitation, and Collusion by the US Government," published in The Witherspoon Institute's Public Discourse.

"It subjects women to life-threatening health risks to produce custom-made children and children being intentionally severed from genetic and biological sources of identity — human rights be damned," continues Sloan, a former member of the board of directors of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

Explaining who the "breeders" are, she states, "Shamefully, the US surrogacy industry feeds on the use of so-called military wives as breeder stock. Depending on the area of the country, it is estimated that between 20 and 50 percent of surrogates in the United States are military wives."

The military, however, makes up less than 1 percent of the U.S. population. "It is no coincidence that surrogacy brokers and clinics are concentrated in states such as Texas, California, and Florida where there are large military bases," adds Sloan, executive director of Connecticut NOW.

Most surrogates are paid between $20,000 and $25,000.

"Military wives make very good surrogates," said Karen Synesiou, director of the Los Angeles-based Center for Surrogate Parenting, who eagerly signs them up, according to Glamour magazine. "They're independent and self-sufficient since their husbands are away from home a lot."

But according to Sloan, "most American citizens have no idea that taxpayer-funded Tricare health insurance, provided to members of the military, is being used to cover the pregnancy and childbirth costs of surrogate pregnancies for contracting buyers."

The 2010 article in Glamour stated, "And here's where military wives are different. Many insurance companies in this country explicitly state that they will not provide pregnancy coverage if a woman is having a baby for someone else. In some cases, companies have even been known to investigate births; if they learn a baby was born to a surrogate, they may bill her for costs incurred. But Glamour's investigation found that it often doesn't work that way for the military's insurance provider, Tricare. According to industry insiders, the company has a history of paying for a surrogate's medical expenses."

Surrogacy in America is governed at the state level with no national laws or regulations governing surrogacy or egg selling. And "the various laws, regulations, and penalties on the books are often not enforced," Sloan notes, adding that "surrogacy law, whether by statute or case law, has been moving inexorably toward legalization across the country."

The author goes on to reveal that the U.S. State Department has been holding meetings in Washington, D.C., with interested stakeholders to discuss and strategize the creation of an international surrogacy enabling agreement. "The meeting participants are overwhelmingly from the fertility industry and its supporters … and sympathetic academics."

Sloan concludes, "To stop this juggernaut, we must build alliances between left and right, fighting to protect the human rights of at-risk women who are being targeted and endangered by those who would use their reproductive capabilities for their own profit."