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Researcher examines paid surrogacy

Heather Jacobson

A UTA researcher has found that women working as paid surrogates for those who are unable to bear children are reluctant to think of themselves as workers, and outsiders often misunderstand their vocation.

Heather Jacobson, associate professor of sociology, explores the complexities of surrogacy and conflicted attitudes that emerge when the act of bringing a child into the world becomes a paid occupation in her new book, Labor of Love: Gestational Surrogacy and the Work of Making Babies.

Dr. Jacobson's research is based on interviews conducted between 2009-2015 with surrogates, their family members, the "intended parents" who employ surrogates, infertility doctors, directors of surrogacy agencies, family lawyers, and various other professionals who work to facilitate gestational surrogacy-an advanced reproductive technology that allows women to be surrogates without contributing their own eggs.

"I found it interesting that surrogates are reluctant to think of this as work because they engage in a tremendous amount of labor in helping to produce a child for people who desperately want one," Jacobson says. "They rearrange their lives and the lives of their families, and if the pregnancy goes well, it can be a yearlong investment-if there are complications, it can be a multiyear investment."

The surrogates in her study were between the ages of 25 and 45 and were paid from $15,000 to $35,000.

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