During the last two decades, a new form of trade in commercial surrogacy grew across Asia. Starting in India, a “disruptive” model of surrogacy offered mass availability, rapid accessibility, and created new demands for surrogacy services from people who could not afford or access surrogacy elsewhere.
In International Surrogacy as Disruptive Industry in Southeast Asia, Andrea Whittaker traces the development of this industry and its movement across Southeast Asia following a sequence of governmental bans in India, Nepal, Thailand, and Cambodia. Through a case study of the industry in Thailand, the book offers a nuanced and sympathetic examination of the industry from the perspectives of the people involved in it: surrogates, intended parents, and facilitators. The industry offers intended parents the opportunity to form much desired families, but also creates vulnerabilities for all people involved. These vulnerabilities became evident in cases of trafficking, exploitation, and criminality that emerged in southeast Asia, leading to greater scrutiny on the industry as a whole. Yet the trade continues in new flexible hybrid forms, involving the circulation of reproductive gametes, embryos, surrogates, and ova donors across international borders to circumvent regulations. The book demonstrates the need for new forms of regulation to protect those involved in international surrogacy arrangements.