Surrogacy is a fertility treatment that allows intended parents to have a baby with the help of a surrogate mother. It is a complex process that involves several parties, legal contracts, and significant financial investment. In this article, we will discuss the history of surrogacy, the surrogacy process, total costs, and legal issues surrounding this fertility treatment.
The History of Surrogacy
Surrogacy has a long and varied history, with accounts of surrogate motherhood dating back to ancient times. In ancient Babylon, for example, surrogacy was used as a means of resolving fertility issues in marriages. Similarly, in ancient Greece and Rome, surrogacy was used to provide heirs for childless couples.
However, it was not until the 1970s that surrogacy became a more formalized process. The first recorded case of surrogacy in the United States was in 1976, when lawyer Noel Keane arranged a surrogacy agreement between a couple and a surrogate mother. The baby was born in 1980, and the case made national headlines.
Since then, surrogacy has become increasingly common, with celebrities and same-sex couples raising awareness of this fertility treatment. Advances in technology and medical procedures, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), have also made surrogacy a more viable option for intended parents.
The Process of Surrogacy
Surrogacy has two types: traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy.
- Traditional Surrogacy: In this type, the surrogate mother uses her egg, which is fertilized with the sperm of the intended father or donor sperm. As a result, the surrogate mother is also the biological mother of the child.
- Gestational Surrogacy: In this type, the surrogate mother carries the embryo that is created using the egg and sperm of the intended parents or donors. This is done through in vitro fertilization (IVF), where the embryo is implanted into the surrogate mother’s uterus.
Gestational surrogacy is more common as it does not create a genetic connection between the surrogate mother and the child. The method used will depend on the circumstances and preferences of the intended parents and surrogate mother.
The surrogacy process starts with finding a surrogate mother, which can be done through an agency or independently. Once a surrogate is selected, the intended parents and surrogate will enter into a legal agreement that outlines the terms of the surrogacy, including financial compensation, medical expenses, and any other agreements regarding the pregnancy and delivery.
If the intended parents are using their own sperm and egg, the embryo will be created through IVF and transferred to the surrogate’s uterus. If a donor is involved, the process becomes more complicated as the donor’s sperm and/or egg must be retrieved, fertilized, and then transferred to the surrogate’s uterus.
Throughout the pregnancy, the surrogate will receive regular medical care to ensure the health of both the surrogate and the baby. Once the baby is born, the intended parents will take legal custody of the child.
Total Costs of Surrogacy
Surrogacy is a costly process, with total costs ranging from $90,000 to $150,000. The total cost depends on several factors, including whether a donor is involved, the surrogate’s compensation, medical expenses, and legal fees. Intended parents should be prepared to cover all expenses related to the surrogacy process, including the surrogate’s compensation, medical expenses, and legal fees.
Legal Issues Surrounding Surrogacy
Surrogacy laws vary by state and country, with some countries banning surrogacy altogether. In the United States, surrogacy is legal in most states, but the laws and regulations surrounding surrogacy vary widely. Some states have more favorable surrogacy laws than others, and intended parents should consult with a surrogacy attorney to determine the best state to pursue surrogacy.
The legal process of surrogacy involves creating a legal agreement between the intended parents and the surrogate. This agreement outlines the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved, including the intended parents’ right to custody of the child. In some cases, the intended parents may need to complete a second-parent adoption to establish legal custody of the child.
Apart from the legal issues surrounding surrogacy, there are other ethical and social issues that are often discussed in relation to this fertility treatment. Here are some of the most prominent issues in surrogacy:
- Exploitation of Surrogate Mothers: Critics of surrogacy argue that the practice can lead to the exploitation of surrogate mothers. Some opponents argue that surrogacy is a form of commodification of women’s bodies, where women are reduced to mere baby-making machines. They argue that surrogate mothers may be pressured into the arrangement due to financial hardships or coercion.
- Psychological Risks: Surrogacy can have psychological risks for all parties involved. Surrogate mothers may experience emotional distress from carrying a baby that they will not raise, while intended parents may experience anxiety and depression from not being able to carry a child themselves. Additionally, the child born through surrogacy may experience identity issues or a sense of loss from not knowing their biological parents.
- Lack of Regulation: The surrogacy industry is not well-regulated, and there are concerns that some surrogacy agencies may engage in unethical practices. There have been cases of surrogacy agencies promising intended parents a baby but failing to deliver, or of surrogates being mistreated or abandoned by intended parents.
- Discrimination: Some countries and states have laws that discriminate against certain groups of people who wish to pursue surrogacy. For example, same-sex couples may face legal barriers to surrogacy in some states, while single individuals may not be allowed to pursue surrogacy in certain countries.
- International Surrogacy: International surrogacy is a controversial topic, with concerns over the exploitation of women in developing countries. In some cases, surrogate mothers in these countries may be paid a fraction of what they would be paid in the United States or Europe, and they may not have access to adequate medical care.
Some recent reports and developments in surrogacy:
- In 2021, the Canadian government announced plans to overhaul its assisted reproduction laws, including making surrogacy more accessible and affordable for Canadian families.
- In 2020, Mexico’s Senate approved a bill to legalize surrogacy nationwide, with regulations to be established at the state level.
- A 2019 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that surrogacy is becoming more common globally, with increasing demand from intended parents and a growing number of surrogacy providers.
- In 2018, the Indian government passed a bill banning commercial surrogacy, with only altruistic surrogacy allowed under certain conditions.
Altruistic surrogacy means that the surrogate mother agrees to carry and deliver a baby for intended parents without getting paid, except for the necessary expenses during pregnancy. This is seen as a more ethical and fair alternative to commercial surrogacy, where the surrogate mother receives financial compensation beyond reasonable expenses. Some countries and states only allow altruistic surrogacy, as it is considered less exploitative.
Surrogacy is a complex and emotionally charged process that can be a viable option for individuals or couples who cannot conceive or carry a pregnancy to term. It is important to understand the process, total cost, and legal implications of surrogacy before deciding to pursue it. Consulting with a surrogacy attorney and working with a reputable surrogacy agency can help ensure a successful and legally sound surrogacy journey.