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Failed surrogate conceptions: social and ethical aspects of preconception disruptions during commercial surrogacy in India

Overview of attention for article published in Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine, September 2016
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  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (82nd percentile)

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36 Mendeley
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Failed surrogate conceptions: social and ethical aspects of preconception disruptions during commercial surrogacy in India
Published in
Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine, September 2016
DOI 10.1186/s13010-016-0040-6
Pubmed ID

Sayani Mitra, Silke Schicktanz


During a commercial surrogacy arrangement, the event of embryo transfer can be seen as the formal starting point of the arrangement. However, it is common for surrogates to undergo a failed attempt at pregnancy conception or missed conception after an embryo transfer. This paper attempts to argue that such failed attempts can be understood as a loss. It aims to reconstruct the experiences of loss and grief of the surrogates and the intended parents as a consequence of their collective failure to conceive a surrogate pregnancy. Drawing on a qualitative study conducted over a period of eight months between 2014 and 2015 at two fertility clinics in Delhi and two in Kolkata, India, this paper examines the experiences of the surrogates and the intended parents when faced with missed conceptions or failed conceptions during a surrogacy arrangement. We argue that while the surrogate grieves the non-arrival of a 'good news' as an uncertain loss, the intended parents experience yet another, failure in addition to the losses they might have incurred during their previous fertility treatments. The body of the surrogate becomes a site of 'a lost opportunity'. The surrogate embodies a loss in her quest to achieve social mobility and the intended parents experience a disembodied pregnancy loss. This very emotional experience stands in stark contrast to the conceptualisation of such failed attempts as non-events within the discourse of the surrogacy industry. The experience of loss of the intended parents is recognised but their grief is given no space. We argue that such ambiguity around the nature of losses resulting out of a missed or failed conception during surrogacy is an outcome of lack of interpersonal relationship between the surrogate and the intended parents. Since commercial surrogacy is a relational process, the only way in which the experiences of losses and failures of the actors at the preconception stage can be better addressed is through developing close sharing and understanding between each other through an ethics of care. Therefore, to nurture caring relationships, surrogacy needs to be understood as a moral commitment by -the surrogates and intended parents. To enable such a commitment, there is a need to reconsider the pre-defined and legally regulated professional duty of the doctors, agents and agencies. It cannot be a one-sided commitment, but has to have elements of mutuality.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 36 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 36 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Bachelor 9 25%
Student > Ph. D. Student 8 22%
Student > Master 7 19%
Student > Doctoral Student 3 8%
Researcher 2 6%
Other 1 3%
Unknown 6 17%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 6 17%
Nursing and Health Professions 6 17%
Social Sciences 5 14%
Arts and Humanities 3 8%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 2 6%
Other 6 17%
Unknown 8 22%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 9. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 02 December 2016.
All research outputs
of 8,713,305 outputs
Outputs from Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine
of 152 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 298,887 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine
of 1 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 8,713,305 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done well and is in the 87th percentile: it's in the top 25% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 152 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 12.1. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 55% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 298,887 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done well, scoring higher than 82% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 1 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has scored higher than all of them