Surrogacy, according to Balen and Jacobs (1997), is the process where a surrogate mother carries a baby for a couple whose woman lacks the ability to carry one on her own or conceive. This process is performed by arrangements usually by companies that aid the intended couple by helping them pick a suitable candidate as their surrogate and handling all the documentations necessary in order for a smooth surrogate process to commence. There are three types of surrogacy (DiGeronimo, 2002). The first is gestational surrogacy where the intended mother’s egg is retrieved, fused with her husband’s sperm and then, the embryo created is implanted into a surrogate mother. Secondly, traditional surrogacy which is when the intended father’s sperm is artificially inseminated into the surrogate mother. Thirdly, donor surrogacy where an embryo is created in vitro, using one of the intended parent’s genetic material and a donor’s egg or sperm, and then transferred into the surrogate mother. Surrogacy has become an issue in many countries and between many people. This paper will explain the disadvantages and advantages of surrogacy. According to DiGeronimo (2002), sometimes an infertile couple is left with no other choice when trying to get a baby other than surrogacy and adoption. In the case of adoption, the child that they will raise will have no genetic link to the intended couple.
However, with surrogacy, the intended couple is guaranteed a child that will be partially genetically theirs. The choice that a couple makes will vary depending on the couple’s priority; whether it is to raise a child or to have a child that has a genetic link. Some couples find that since they cannot have a child that is fully genetically theirs, their next best option is to settle with being partially genetically related to the child because they find that having a genetic link is important. When and if a couple’s main priority is to have a genetic link with their child, with proper medical intervention, they can achieve it. Of course, surrogacy is in no way similar to the normal pregnancy between couples but it does indeed benefit a large number of them. Another type of couple that can benefit from surrogacy is same-sex couples. In this case, they do not have the necessary sex gametes between the two of them to produce an inseminated embryo.
This leaves them with no means of a natural pregnancy. As stated by Werb (2007), many gay men have chosen surrogacy as a way to have children and many surrogates are more than willing to help out these gay couples. Surrogacy, fortunately, allows for them to have a child that is partially genetically theirs and is as close to a normal pregnancy as they can get. Surrogate mothers are more comfortable with gay couples because they do not have to worry about an intended mother. There are also instances where the women are medically unadvised to conceive a child because of her health condition (Silber, 2005). This could be women who carry hereditary diseases where the likeliness of the child contracting the disease during pregnancy is high. A specific example of a situation would be: a woman with Marfan’s Syndrome who had to go through several procedures to stop her from sudden death. In this case, it would be lethal if the woman were to conceive and get pregnant. Therefore, this woman no longer has the chance at getting a child on her own and is left with only a few choices at experiencing the life of being a mother. Surrogacy presents the opportunity for a helpless woman to be given one of the most amazing gifts possible.
According to DiGeronimo (2002), surrogacy, when compared to adoption is less risky in terms of problems that might arise after birth. She stated that adoption is often fraught with more disappointment compared to surrogate arrangements. This is further explained that most women, when applying to be a surrogate mom, usually only do it for the money and not for the reason of getting a child. Adoptions are riskier because the birth mother has fully conceived the baby on her own without the initial intent of giving the child away. This gives the mother an emotional attachment that is very hard to dismiss. Many cases of adoption has proven to fail—from birth mothers disappearing at the last minute to birth fathers not signing papers to give away the baby—and so, many couples have decided to chose the path of surrogacy. Also stated is that surrogacy puts the intended parents in a more secure position when dealing with issues after birth. For example, if the surrogate mother suddenly decides that she would like to keep the baby, both sides are on equal grounds simply because they both hold half of the baby’s genes. In this case, it is more likely for the intended parents to win the case because a surrogate arrangement is a contract and all parties had to have an agreement.
Therefore, if the surrogate mom breaches the contract, she is in the wrong and the intended have the power to fight for their rights. Many companies that handle both adoption and surrogacy have proven that the rate of adoption has dwindled while the number of surrogacy arrangements have increased by large numbers and have a higher number compared to adoption. Adoption allows the birth mother an amount of time after birth for her to change her mind and keep the baby. This adds to why couples have resorted to choosing surrogacy. Also, surrogacy guarantees intended parents a genetic link, even though partial, to the baby which puts them at an advantages when dealing with legal issues. Surrogate mothers are not prone to emotional attachment to the baby they are carrying because of the fact that they chose the path of surrogacy and do not have the desire for a child but rather the money they would be getting. Surrogacy is more ideal to couples these days because it is safer financially.
This is because the intended parents would have to pay for all of the birth mother’s expenses and the likeliness of the birth mother disappearing in surrogacy is very low compared to adoption: Out of 2000 surrogate arrangements only 1% has ended with the birth mother fighting for custody of the baby. The amount of money that would go into adopting a child would be a waste if the intended parents do not get the baby in the end. The intended parents have had more success in their arguments when dealing with legal issues after the birth of the baby (Behrman, Patton & Holtz, 1994).
As the saying goes, every rose has its thorns. Similar to that, surrogacy too has its disadvantages. Surrogacy, though very helpful to many couples, is considered to be extremely expensive. According to DiGeronimo (2002), the cost of merely attaining a surrogate mother can range from $15,000 to $20,000 and can even increase if the surrogate mother demands it. Surrogacy is very costly because of the many types of fee that needs to be paid like counsellor’s fee, the fee implied by the company, legal fees, the surrogate fee (which varies), the surrogate’s legal counsel and an insurance policy. In a surrogacy contract, the intended parents must agree to pay for all of the surrogate mother’s medical charges. In relation to that, it is known that regular pregnant women require check-ups every month; a surrogate mother requires a lot more check-ups and treatments. Even before implanting an embryo or artificially inseminating their egg, a surrogate mother has to go through several medical routines.
As shown by Silber (2005), has to go through a very specific routine of consuming birth control pills and then start getting daily injections for a good two weeks and then go through 12 more medical sessions after that which includes more injections, several ultrasounds and other procedures. These procedures are very complicated and precise. Failing to follow the routine accurately may result in an unsuccessful surrogacy. Each of these sessions require the surrogate mother to go to a clinic and get the aid of a nurse or a doctor which comes with a price. Undoubtedly, the sum of all these visits to the clinic will be high. Not only do the intended parents have to pay for pre-birth and while-birth expenses but they also have to pay for the cost of the hospital and, if necessary, the c-section. This proves that surrogacy is very pricey and is considered unsuitable for many couples because of their financial situation.
Surrogacy also plants a level of uncertainty in the intended parents while also posing a risk of the baby’s health. According to DiGeronimo (2002), just like any other regular pregnancy, surrogacy pregnancy also poses the normal risks that come along like miscarriages and the baby being born with defects. Of course, it would be a pity if a miscarriage were to happen but then again, it is a risk that the intended couple would have to take. No matter the quality of the egg and sperm that were fused, there are still chances of the unpredictable becoming a reality. Therefore, in order to go through with surrogacy, the intended parents have to mentally prepare themselves for the unlikely, while dealing with the anxiety that comes with the uncertainness. The intended parents have no control over the behaviour and environment that the surrogate mother is in, therefore, they have to bear the consequence of the baby’s health given the surrogate mom is leading a stressful life. In connection to that, a baby could be born with defects or disabilities no matter the carrier of it and the intended parents are given no other choice but to accept the baby if it does come out with deficiencies. There is no possible way to ‘reject’ a baby from a surrogate arrangement and neither can the intended parents sue or blame the surrogate mother for giving birth to a special baby. This is because all pregnancies carry the risk and it is not any one person’s fault when it does happen. The intended parents will also have to rely on trust when picking a surrogate mother, especially when picking anonymously, because the medical records and the company’s information on the candidates for surrogate mothers could be falsified. This gives no intended couple the full guarantee that the quality of the egg that they could be receiving is a good quality egg. It also doesn’t guarantee that the health state of the surrogate mom is perfect. Unfortunately, some of the candidates for surrogate mothers are only in it to make quick money and sometimes, they falsify their health status or send in fake doctor letters. Some companies, too, are not strict enough when accepting applicants to become surrogate mothers.
In conclusion, surrogacy can be the topic of a heated argument because of its many advantages and disadvantages that somehow balances each other out. The advantage of surrogacy is that it allows for the unconventional and infertile couples to acquire a baby that has a genetic link to them rather than it being an impossible task in the past. Also, another advantage would be that it a less risky way of getting a baby compared to the other alternative: adoption. Opposing to those, the disadvantage of surrogacy is that it comes with a very high price and many cannot afford it. Another disadvantage is that the intended couple would need to deal with lack of control of the baby while pregnancy and the uncertainty of the condition of the baby plus health risks. Surrogacy is more of a personal opinion rather than a unanimously agreed upon ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ act. With that being said, different people have different views on surrogacy.