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Surrogacy: beyond the commercial/altruistic distinction
  1. J Y Lee
  1. Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Dr J Y Lee, University of Copenhagen, 1017 København, Denmark; ji.young.lee{at}


In this article, I critique the commonly accepted distinction between commercial and altruistic surrogacy arrangements. The moral legitimacy of surrogacy, I claim, does not hinge on whether it is paid (‘commercial’) or unpaid (‘altruistic’); rather, it is best determined by appraisal of virtue-abiding conditions constitutive of the surrogacy arrangement. I begin my article by problematising the prevailing commercial/altruistic distinction; next, I demonstrate that an assessment of the virtue-abiding or non-virtue-abiding features of a surrogacy is crucial to navigating questions about the moral legitimacy of surrogacy; in the final part, I reject other moral heuristics that might be proposed as alternatives to the commercial/altruistic dichotomy, and reiterate that a virtue-ethical framework is the most suitable way forward.

  • Surrogate Mothers
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Ethics

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Data availability statement

No data are available. Not applicable.

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  • Contributors JYL is the sole author of this article and guarantor.

  • Funding This study was funded by Velux Fonden (00026589).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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