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Not inconceivable anymore ... Saudi women hiring surrogates abroad

Saudi women who are unable to conceive are traveling abroad to enter into financial agreements with surrogate mothers to carry their child — a practice not permitted by the Islamic Jurisprudence Council.
The Saudi Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics said these surrogates, also known as “uterus zir,” rent their wombs to carry the fetus of childless couples.
Dr. Samir Abbas, a member of the society and an expert in gynecology, surgery and infertility, said a large number of Saudi families look to European and Asian countries for surrogate mothers if a woman in the family is unable to carry a child for health reasons.
He called on the Islamic Jurisprudence Council to review the decision it has taken on the issue. “Such a phenomenon should not be treated as taboo, since the mechanism of food being fed to the fetus through the umbilical cord is akin to the act of a woman breastfeeding another person’s child, which is permissible in Islam,” said Abbas.
Some families return disappointed since some surrogate mothers opt to keep the babies after birth, which is permissible in US law.
This has prompted many families to search for women with several children since they are more likely to honor the agreement.
Amira Kashgari, a columnist at Al-Watan newspaper and professor of linguistics at King Abdulaziz University, said such an issue has two sides.
“The positive side is that scientists have made alternatives possible,” she said. “The negative side is the potential psychological impact such a procedure can have. People looking to embark on this form of child-bearing should read up on other peoples’ experiences.”
Renowned Islamic scholar and economist Omar Abdullah Kamel said: “Renting” a womb involves many issues. “Adoption can also satisfy maternal feelings,” he said.
Dr. Azzam Abdulmajeed, a gynecologist, said: “The success rates of the process is very slim because the mother’s womb is genetically linked to the fetus. We need to conduct more studies on this issue since it is new and reading about it is not enough,” he said.
“Essentially, the fetus would be feeding from the surrogate mother, which means she should be tested. Knowing a surrogate’s medical history is essential before the procedure is conducted,” he said.
“This procedure is unavailable in the Kingdom and this might be the reason why these women go searching for other hospitals and medical institutes outside Saudi Arabia.”

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