The harm argument against surrogacy revisited: two versions not to forget

Med Health Care Philos. 2014 Aug;17(3):357-63. doi: 10.1007/s11019-014-9557-x.


It has been a common claim that surrogacy is morally problematic since it involves harm to the child or the surrogate-the harm argument. Due to a growing body of empirical research, the harm argument has seen a decrease in popularity, as there seems to be little evidence of harmful consequences of surrogacy. In this article, two revised versions of the harm argument are developed. It is argued that the two suggested versions of the harm argument survive the current criticism against the standard harm argument. The first version argues that the child is harmed by being separated from the gestational mother. The second version directs attention to the fact that surrogacy involves great incentives to keep the gestational mother's level of maternal-fetal attachment low, which tend to increase the risk of harm to the child. While neither of the two arguments is conclusive regarding the moral status of surrogacy, both constitute important considerations that are often ignored.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal-Fetal Relations / psychology
  • Mother-Child Relations / psychology
  • Object Attachment
  • Surrogate Mothers* / psychology