Giving up the prospect of parenthood is somewhat like bereavement. When the harsh realization finally dawns on you, your dreams lie crushed and you lose the will to live. But then life need not always be this way. Just because your doctor told you that you couldn’t take the conventional route to parenthood does not mean that all doors are closed! Options like surrogacy can make your dream of starting a family come true.
However, before you go ahead and get a surrogate’s help, it is imperative that you become aware of the issues that can crop up in the process.
Problem#1: Legal Issues
- Surrogacy is illegal in some American states, as well as in many other countries.
- Also, in certain states it can be a complex process for the intended mother to be named as the parent, especially in cases where the surrogate is the biological mother.
- Hence, intended parents must prepare a legal contract where the surrogate agrees to abandon her maternal rights and thereby allows the intended mother to adopt the child.
- Some jurisdictions forbid commercial surrogacy.
- If doctors discover that the fetus has potential birth defects or some other health problems, then the intended parents might decide to discontinue the pregnancy. This can give rise to several legal problems, particularly if they use the sperm from a donor or eggs not belonging to the surrogate for pregnancy. In this case, the problem is who gets to decide whether the pregnancy should be carried on or terminated.
So before you approach a surrogate, it is imperative that you seek the advice of legal counsel and make sure that all pertinent issues are addressed. Also, when the contract is drafted and ready for you and the surrogate to sign, make sure that it complies with the state and local laws involving surrogacy.
Problem#2: Surrogates’ refusal to give the child
In certain instances, the surrogate mothers have developed a strong attachment to the baby, and thus refused to give away the child on birth. In some of these cases, the surrogates, being biological mothers, have won the cases. However, in states where surrogacy is allowed, this has gone against them and they have lost their visitation or custody rights.
Problem#3: Breach Of Contract
Either of the parties, be it the intended parents or the surrogate can breach their contract. Some of the examples of surrogacy contract breaches include:
- Voluntary abortion by the surrogate without the consent of intended parents.
- The surrogate can also breach the contract by failing to follow certain behavioral restrictions (by indulging in drug abuse/ alcohol consumption for example) during the gestation period.
- Failure of the intended parents to pay for all the expenses and fees.
- The surrogate’s refusal to go for an abortion following the attending physician’s recommendation.
Problem#4: Medical Complications
The surrogate mother may face obstetrical or medical complications during the pregnancy.
- For example, the surrogate mother is more susceptible to develop infections when another woman’s eggs are transplanted into her.
- Miscarriage is very common in surrogate pregnancy.
- Since in most cases, more than one embryo is implanted in the uterus to enhance the chances of successful pregnancy, it also enhances the possibility of twins or triplets. Often, this becomes crucial for the mother’s health as well as that of the unborn babies.
Problem#5: Ethical Issues
Some common ethical issues regarding surrogacy are:
- Many people still consider surrogacy as a baby selling process and a surrogate mother is still looked down upon.
- Many people also take it as a chance to take advantage of a needy woman.
- Parents are often found to be indecisive about whether they should allow their child (if he/ she was born via surrogacy) to know the identity of the people involved in his/ her conception and delivery.
Problem#6: Religious Issues
Different religions have varied approaches to surrogacy. For example:
- Jewish law permits surrogacy only if it is a full gestational surrogacy. Also, the gametes of both intended parents should be included and in vitro fertilization should be the mode of fertilization followed.
- Paragraph 2376 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states
“Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (read donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral.”
- Surrogacy is prohibited in Islam.
Despite the different issues pertaining to surrogacy, statistics reveal that there has been a steady rise in the number of women donning the role of surrogates. In 2006 alone, the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology or SART estimated about 260 surrogate deliveries, and since then the number has been on a constant rise.
With new bills being passed to take care of every imaginable surrogacy complication, hopefully the process will become a lot more hassle-free in the near future.
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