Indian surrogate mother dies after delivery of child for a Norwegian couple

UPDATE – from the Norwegian press

The surrogate mother bore twins but one of them died after birth.

The Norwegian Embassy in India confirmed that preparations were underway for the other child to be taken to Norway.

The surrogate mother was apparently paid 31,000 Norwegian Kronor (about $6,000) (corrected below)

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This report in the Svenska Dagbladet today is disturbing not because there is anything inherently wrong with surrogacy but because it smacks of exploitation – of wealth being used to pass on the risks of childbirth to a “poor” surrogate mother. There are some very gray ethics involved in a “rich” Norwegian couple exploiting the poverty of a “poor” surrogate mother who dies – especially in doing something not permitted in Norway. No doubt the surrogate was paid the “going rate” for surrogacy (about $6,000). But I doubt the surrogate had made any real assessment of the risk of losing her life or that the “contract” had a clause to cover for the death of the surrogate.

Svenska DagbladetAn Indian woman who was the surrogate for a Norwegian couple died shortly after birth. The woman, who was married and had children of  her own developed Hepatitis E during the pregnancy. 

“Pregnancy and childbirth is unpredictable for us all. Unforseen things can happen and the surrogate contract and the parties should take this into account”, says anthropologist Kristin Engh Førde.

Surrogates are not allowed in Norway and Norwegians make use of egg donation abroad.

The article does not report on the condition of the baby nor on the condition of the surrogate’s own children.

I hope the Norwegian couple get their child — but what is their responsibility for those other children?

I am not sure if the quote from anthropologist Kristin Engh Førde is meant to imply – and I hope it does not – that it is the responsibility of every surrogate mother to accept the risk of dying and contract accordingly.

Would the surrogate have died if she had been giving birth at a Norwegian hospital? Would her Hepatitis E have been treated in time?

Mortality rates are generally low, for hepatitis E is a “self-limiting” disease. …  However, during the duration of the infection (usually several weeks), the disease severely impairs a person’s ability to work, care for family members, and obtain food. Hepatitis E occasionally develops into an acute, severe liver disease, and is fatal in about 2% of all cases. Clinically, it is comparable to hepatitis A, but in pregnant women the disease is more often severe and is associated with a clinical syndrome called fulminant hepatic failure. Pregnant women, especially those in the third trimester, suffer an elevated mortality rate from the disease of around 20%.

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One Response to “Indian surrogate mother dies after delivery of child for a Norwegian couple”

  1. Brittany Says:

    Tragic.

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