When my sister first had trouble conceiving there was talk of potential solutions, one of which was surrogacy. Luckily, she conceived my baby niece on her own, but I still wonder about what a difficult decision a surrogate pregnancy would have been. In fact, many physicians cite ethical concerns for the process. Not only that, but the legal issues are also pretty daunting.
To understand some of the challenges associated with surrogate pregnancy, you must first know exactly what surrogacy entails. In a nutshell, surrogate pregnancy is when a woman carries a child for a couple that is unable to conceive or have children on their own. However, this can be done in two different ways. A couple can either have a traditional surrogate mother, or a gestational surrogate mother. With traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother’s egg is used. This means that the child that is conceived is genetically related to the surrogate mother and the donor father. This method is used typically when the intended father’s sperm count is low or when there is no intended father and a woman is using a sperm donator. Gestational surrogacy is when a couple uses their own sperm and egg to artificially inseminate a surrogate mother. In this case, the surrogate mother has no genetic ties to the child. This method is typically used when a woman is unable to physically have a child.
With both methods there are legal, financial, and ethical concerns. However, if you and your spouse decide that surrogacy is the right option, start by hiring a lawyer, because surrogate pregnancies can get complex fast. This is because high levels of emotions are involved, and because there are numerous factors to consider when choosing a surrogate mother. If you find one through a fertility clinic, the clinic usually requires that the infertile couple and their chosen surrogate mother write up a contract. This is best done with a lawyer present. This contract doesn’t always smooth everything out however. Common issues that should be talked over with a legal representative should include:
- The surrogate’s willingness to forfeit her privacy.
- Medical examinations of the surrogate’s spouse or significant other.
- Counseling for the surrogate when it comes time to give up the baby.
- Insurance questions and what type of costs the infertile couple will be responsible for.
In addition to this, there is a typical list of things the surrogate mother can and cannot do. Such as take prescription drugs or engage in behaviors and actions that could cause the fetus harm. These are all valid concerns with a surrogate mother found through a legitimate fertility clinic, just think of the issues that can come with finding a surrogate mother in less professional ways. Though this evidence can suggest that surrogacy is a vastly complicated way to have a child, I also know that surrogacy has worked to provide many infertile couples with the children they have desperately wanted all their lives.
- Storey, G. P. (n.d.). Yale University. Ethical Problems Surrounding Surrogate Motherhood.
- Burrell, C., & O'Connor, H. (2013). Surrogate Pregnancy: Ethical and Medico-Legal Issues in Modern Obstetrics. The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist , 15(2), 113-119.