In the U.S., the all-inclusive cost of a surrogate pregnancy (including the surrogate’s fee, in vitro costs, medical expenses, brokers’ fees, etc.) is $75,000+.  But you can save a bundle by going to India, the growing world capital of fertility tourism.  With the Indian economy growing by leaps and bounds, however, its comparative advantage in unpleasant, labor-intensive services won’t last forever.  From Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, chapter 7 (“Life-Giving Technology: What It Means for You”):

Fertility tourism has a bright future for the
next couple of decades.  But how many
cheap surrogates will be on the market after countries like India join the
developed world?  In fifty years, perhaps
our daughters will tell our granddaughters, “Back in my day, we outsourced our
pregnancies to India,” and the granddaughters will impatiently reply, “Mom,
outsourcing just isn’t affordable anymore!” 

is an amazing advance, but it redistributes pregnancy rather than eliminating
it.  The only long-term global solution
to the burden of pregnancy is the creation – and mass production – of
artificial wombs.

Sci-fi?  Probably not.  While writing this chapter, I learned about the amazing experiments of Cornell’s Hung-Ching Liu:

Liu’s artificial womb is a surprisingly simple construction. She
created it after researching the making of artificial skin and adapting
those methods. First she and her co-workers mold a base, a womb-shaped
matrix of collagen and chondroitin, substances that are biodegradable.
Over time, they dissolve, leaving only the endometrial tissue that is
placed over the matrix. Each womb is shaped like a section of the
mammalian version it mimics: The artificial human mold is bowl-shaped;
the faux mouse womb is a doughnut-shaped section of a mouse’s tubular

In the beginning, Liu used endometrial cells donated by
some of the clinic’s female patients to grow human tissue. Then she
added human embryos left over from IVF treatments, donated by other
patients. These zygotes implanted and started to grow. But after they
had gestated for 10 days, Liu ended the experiments, well short of
viability. Under current federal regulations, two weeks is the limit
for human fetal growth in the lab. “So we switched to an animal model,”
Liu says with a shrug. In 2002 she and her colleagues started making
mouse wombs and growing mouse embryos inside them.

Liu almost got a mouse embryo to term in 2003.  Since then, this research has been discontinued, but the main problem seems to be regulation and public hostility, not intrinsic difficulty.  Once a generation of Western women get used to pregnancy-free babies, can the artificial womb be far behind?