Navigating the Complexities of Surrogacy: A Moral Odyssey Explored in "Pretty Girl Complex" by Alice Hlidkova. @ Cédric Walter | Monday, Jan 22, 2024 | 6 minutes read | 1139 Words | Update at Friday, Jan 26, 2024

In a world where medical advancements continually redefine the boundaries of human experience, the practice of surrogacy stands at the intersection of hope, love, and moral ambiguity. Alice Hlidkova ’s thought-provoking book, “Pretty Girl Complex,” delves into the intricate web of emotions, ethical dilemmas, and societal challenges that surround the journey of surrogacy. In this blog post, we’ll explore the difficulties inherent in surrogacy and the moral encounters faced by those involved, as introduced by Hlidkova’s compelling narrative.

The Complexities of Surrogacy

Surrogacy is a multifaceted process that involves a woman carrying and delivering a child for another individual or couple. While it has provided a beacon of hope for those struggling with infertility, the journey is fraught with complexities that extend far beyond the medical aspects. From emotional roller coasters to legal intricacies, the challenges faced by everyone involved in surrogacy are profound.

Emotional Turmoil

The emotional toll of surrogacy is undeniable, affecting not only the surrogate but also the intended parents. For surrogates, the bond formed with the child during pregnancy can be emotionally challenging, as they grapple with the instinctive maternal connection while knowing the child is not biologically theirs. Similarly, intended parents may experience anxiety, fear, and the constant struggle to balance gratitude with the awareness that the child’s biological connection lies elsewhere.

Embarking on the path of surrogacy is not merely a physical commitment but a profound emotional journey. Surrogates find themselves in a unique position, carrying a child that is not genetically their own. The emotional connection formed during pregnancy is undeniable, and navigating the delicate balance between attachment and detachment can be a tumultuous experience. The surrogate may grapple with conflicting emotions, from the joy of bringing life into the world to the bittersweet awareness that the child will be handed over to another family.

For intended parents, the surrogacy process is a mix of hope, anxiety, and the constant struggle to reconcile the joy of impending parenthood with the complexities of the arrangement. They may face the emotional challenge of relying on another woman to carry and nurture their child, fostering a profound sense of vulnerability. The wait for the baby’s arrival can be emotionally draining, filled with anticipation, fear, and an overwhelming desire to connect with the surrogate on a personal level.

Surrogacy demands a delicate dance between bonding and maintaining boundaries. Surrogates must navigate the emotional tightrope of forming a connection with the intended parents while ensuring they do not overstep the boundaries of their role. Intended parents, in turn, may grapple with the desire to be involved in the pregnancy journey while respecting the surrogate’s autonomy. Striking the right balance requires open communication, empathy, and a shared understanding of the emotional complexities involved.

The emotional turmoil of surrogacy extends beyond the primary actors to encompass their support networks. Family members, friends, and even medical professionals may find themselves grappling with their own emotions as they witness the highs and lows of the surrogacy journey. Providing adequate support involves recognizing and addressing the emotional needs of all parties involved, fostering an environment of understanding and empathy.

Surrogacy brings forth a myriad of legal and ethical questions, varying across jurisdictions and cultural contexts. Issues related to parental rights, consent, and compensation often create a complex landscape, with laws and regulations struggling to keep pace with evolving reproductive technologies. Hlidkova’s “Pretty Girl Complex” navigates these intricate legal and ethical challenges, shedding light on the often-murky waters that surround surrogacy.

One of the foremost legal dilemmas in surrogacy revolves around parental rights. Determining who has legal custody of the child, especially in cases involving gestational surrogacy with donated eggs, can be a labyrinthine process. Legal frameworks vary across jurisdictions, and the lack of standardized regulations can lead to confusion and disputes. The clarity of parental rights and responsibilities becomes a pivotal concern, demanding comprehensive and uniform legal guidelines.

The ethical dimensions of surrogacy center around the concept of informed consent and the autonomy of all parties involved. Surrogates must fully understand the physical, emotional, and legal implications of the process before embarking on the journey. Ensuring that consent is freely given, without coercion or undue influence, raises ethical questions about the potential power dynamics between intended parents and surrogates. Striking a balance that upholds individual autonomy while safeguarding the well-being of all parties is a complex challenge.

Moral Encounters in Surrogacy

As Alice Hlidkova skillfully weaves the narrative in “Pretty Girl Complex,” readers are confronted with profound moral encounters that force them to question societal norms, personal values, and the definition of family.

The Commodification of Motherhood

One of the central moral dilemmas explored in the book is the commodification of motherhood. As surrogacy involves financial transactions, the fine line between altruism and commercialization becomes blurred. Hlidkova prompts readers to reflect on the ethical implications of placing a price tag on the act of bringing life into the world.

While some argue that compensating surrogates is a fair acknowledgment of their time, effort, and potential risks, others contend that introducing financial transactions into the process commodifies the act of bringing life into the world. Balancing the financial aspects of surrogacy with ethical considerations is an ongoing debate that necessitates a nuanced understanding of the intersection between reproductive rights and economic transactions.

Balancing Autonomy and Responsibility

Surrogacy raises questions about the autonomy and responsibility of all parties involved. How much control should the surrogate have over her body and the pregnancy? What obligations do the intended parents bear towards the surrogate and the unborn child? Hlidkova’s narrative encourages readers to grapple with these moral quandaries, highlighting the delicate balance between personal freedom and shared responsibility.

Ensuring the health and well-being of the surrogate is an ethical imperative that requires careful consideration. From medical screenings to mental health assessments, ethical concerns arise regarding the thoroughness of the evaluation process and the responsibility of all parties, including medical professionals and intended parents, to prioritize the surrogate’s physical and emotional welfare.

“Pretty Girl Complex” by Alice Hlidkova serves as a poignant exploration of the difficulties and moral encounters inherent in the world of surrogacy. Through a rich tapestry of characters and ethical dilemmas, the book challenges readers to confront their preconceptions and engage in a nuanced dialogue about the profound impact of reproductive technologies on our society. As we navigate the intricate terrain of surrogacy alongside Hlidkova’s characters, we are invited to reflect on the profound moral questions that shape our understanding of family, autonomy, and the very essence of human connection.

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Cédric Walter is a French-Swiss entrepreneur, investor, and software engineer based in Zurich, Switzerland. He spent his career developing software applications for Swiss insurance companies to handle billions of dollars in premiums. He cofounded Innoveo AG and as the software architect developed the no-code platform designed to reduce the manual coding that powers many software apps. As an active participant in the European hacking community, he works on many open source projects including blockchain. Cédric is a winner of multiple hackathons. His expertise include designing back end, event-based, and blockchain systems. Cédric is also the founded Disruptr GmbH, a software development company that offers full spectrum of services for businesses of all sizes.

JAVA full-stack developer since 2000, in Blockchain since 2017, Certified Scrum Master 2012, Corda Certified Developer in 2019, Ethereum smart contract expert in the SWISS Blockchain Security working group


  • HackZurich 2022 – Level Up in top 25 finalist among 134 submissions
  • SBHACK21 – SwiFi winner of best Solution on Algorand, overall Winner 3rd Prize, CV Labs Fast Track Ticket
  • HackZurich 2020 Europe’s Biggest Hackathon winner in category Migros
  • SBHACK19 – LendIt winner of Swiss biggest Blockchain Hackathon. On chain insurance and ledger for agricultural land soil.
  • Member of the Bitcoin Association Switzerland and Cryptovalley association Switzerland,

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