Ethical Issues in Surrogacy

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Surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman agrees to carry and deliver a child for a couple. The woman, who rents her womb, is called the surrogate mother, and she is supposed to hand over the child to the couple soon after its birth. Surrogacy is usually for couples and individuals, who wish to experience the joys of parenthood but are unable to do so by conventional means.

If the surrogate mother donates the egg for the embryo she is the genetic mother of the surrogate baby. This type of an arrangement is known as traditional or natural surrogacy, and is not supported by many countries.

Alternatively, if the egg is supplied by the intending mother or it is obtained from an egg donor, the arrangement is known as gestational surrogacy and the surrogate mother will have no genetic relationship with the baby. Commercial surrogacy is the arrangement in which the surrogate mother is financially compensated, whereas if the agreement is made solely on compassion, it is called an altruistic surrogacy.

Commercial surrogacy in countries such as New Zealand, United Kingdom, and several European countries is illegal. People, unable to make arrangements for an altruistic surrogacy, often opt for commercial surrogacy in India as the country provides them affordable solutions, and the procedure is supported by the legislation.

In addition, it is easy to get surrogate mothers in India of childbearing age who are of sound mental and physical health; most of them steer clear of smoking/drinking as the culture does not allow them.

While some argue that commercial surrogacy is a sound practice, there has always been a frenzied debate around the ethical issues around surrogate arrangements. Many people believe that creating a baby is always good and if all parties benefit from the agreement, there is nothing wrong with the contract. However, since the surrogate mother carries the child in her womb, she develops a relationship with the baby. Relinquishing the child can be emotionally distressing for her, especially if she is also the genetic mother of the baby (as in traditional/natural surrogacy). She might insist on visitation rights post birth, which could be unacceptable to the parents. However, most surrogacy contracts mention that the surrogate will have no right on the baby after its birth.

The surrogate baby may have identity issues upon being informed of the nature of his birth. The decision of informing the baby requires careful handling and a great deal of thought. Since financial compensation is involved, many socialists feel that surrogacy is a privilege that is available only to the wealthy.

The procedure requires medical examination of the embryo, which, though usually very careful, can cause its damage. This can lead to the loss of lives, something that is not acceptable to most religions. Renting a womb for huge sums of money is unethical and many women might consider this an easy way of earning money. They may agree to have several surrogate arrangements and this can be both physically and mentally damaging for them. Moreover, wanna-be mothers, who wish to avoid the biological strain of pregnancy, may decide to use surrogate mothers to complete their families.

The surrogate mother might not allow the intended parents to control her diet or monitor her health during the pregnancy and this may be worrying for the commissioning parents. She may decide to abort the baby and since it is not hers.

Ethical issues are sure a hindrance to surrogacy, but with careful contracts and strict monitoring the procedure can be kept under control, which is why it is gradually gaining acceptance.

About our Featured Blogger:

Deepika Garg is an internet enthusiast and blogger, who has been involved with creative web content creation and management for over 5 years. She is also the Chief Editor at Surrogacy Clinics, which helps people experience the joys of parenthood via surrogacy


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