One of Arnold Schwarzenegger's worst films, Junior
A Los Angeles fertility doctor is facilitating social surrogacy for Hollywood starlets who want children but whose careers will suffer if they become pregnant. In a revealing interview with The Guardian, Dr Vicken Sahakian says that he sees nothing unethical about paying a woman to carry another woman’s baby.
“I don’t have issues with it. If you’re a 28-year-old model or an actor and you get pregnant, you’re going to lose your job – you will. If you want to use a surrogate, I’ll help you.”
“In this field, in Los Angeles, you can’t judge clients. This is the wild west. Twenty years ago helping a gay couple was taboo – it still is in Arkansas. We are so in the infancy of all of this.”
Sahakian says that he organises about 20 social surrogacies a year – up from a handful five years ago, even though it could cost US$150,000:
“If social surrogacy was more affordable, more women would be doing it, absolutely. There’s an advantage to being pregnant, the bonding, I understand that, and from experience I can say that most women love to be pregnant. But a lot of women don’t want to be pregnant and lose a year of their careers.”
A typical client is not a big name in Tinsel Town, but an aspiring actress. Sahakian says:
“They tell me point blank, ‘If I get pregnant, I will lose my part. I work, I don’t have time because of work. I model, I act, I look good like this and I don’t want to disfigure my body.’”
There is still a stigma attached to using the services of a surrogate mother, Sahakian acknowledges. Some of his clients work around this by wearing prosthetic swelling bellies. The market leader is a British company called Moonbump. Its products are made with five different skin tones and for four stages of pregnancy. Apart from using them in films or theatre, “in many cases, [they are] for strengthening emotional bonds as you move forward with a planned surrogacy or adoption” – according to the Moonbump website.
The Guardian’s journalist asked Sahakian to look into the future:
Back at the Pacific Fertility Center, underneath Sahakian’s framed medical certificates, I put this to him: that in 20 years people will think of social surrogacy as no more unnatural than surrogacy for gay couples.
“Twenty? No, a couple of years from now. We’re already almost there. Surrogacy isn’t taboo any more. In the UK, you are so far behind us. Thank God – so many of my clients come from the UK, it’s good for business! But that’s going to change.”
Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge
This article is published by
and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines
. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us
for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.