Marriedcouples consider children an important part of their lives, whichalso marks a transition to another part of life. However, ten tofifteen percent of married couples are incapable of having childrendue to infertility or other medical issues. As such, some couplesseek surrogacy as a viable option to have children. It entailsgetting a fertile, healthy woman to carry a baby to term for a coupleintending to be parents (Ciccarelli & Beckman, 2005). The mostcommon types of surrogacy are gestational or traditional. Ingestational surrogacy, the intended parent or a donor provides theegg and sperms, which are implanted using the Vitro Fertilizationtechniques into the surrogate mother. Alternatively, a couple can optfor traditional surrogacy that entails artificially inseminating thesperms of the intended father into the surrogate mother (Ciccarelli &Beckman, 2005). While surrogacy is not a new solution tochildlessness, it has always been surrounded by controversy whereemotional, ethical, and legal arguments are brought up to discouragecouples from using it.
Statisticsshows that surrogacy is becoming more prevalent in the society asmany couples are opting to have children whom they are geneticallyrelated as opposed to adopting.
Between2004 and 2008, approximately 5000 children were born throughsurrogacy (Ciccarelli & Beckman, 2005). In some countries likeAustralia, the legal system does not allow for commercial surrogacy.Then again, the surrogacy laws in Australia are complicated, and theyvary between states. Ultimately, securing altruistic surrogacy isexpensive and a complicated process. As such, couples opt tooutsource mainly through agencies in Thailand, India, and Canada. The2012 Statistics shows that approximately 400 Australian children wereborn through surrogacy arrangement with mothers in Thailand(Ciccarelli & Beckman, 2005).
Nonetheless,surrogacy can cause emotional issues for both the child and thesurrogate. According to the biological evidence, the gestationalmother and child have a prenatal connection (Ciccarelli &Beckman, 2005). On the other hand, the process of surrogacy requiresthat the surrogate give the child to the biological parents afterbirth. Thus, the gestational mother has to detach herself bothemotionally and physically from the child once it is born. It breaksthe bond between the mother and child, which can harm the childemotionally. Besides, surrogacy is an extremely complex arrangement.The relationships can be intense, stressful, and overwhelming to thesurrogate mother (Ciccarelli & Beckman, 2005). Even in asituation where a surrogate mother has professional views regardingthe arrangement, the emotional attachments to the child are always atrisk. For example, the 1985 case of baby M resulted in a legaldispute when the surrogate decided to keep the child. It shows that abond is formed with the child and breaking it entails causing themother emotional harm.
Moreover,there are ethical considerations to make when considering surrogacy.In most cases, the surrogate mother is not the primary caretaker ofthe child (Ciccarelli & Beckman, 2005). Therefore, the ethicalissues arise when informing the child of his or her surrogate mother.In some cases, this may affect the child’s self-identity.Additionally, the surrogacy process does not necessarily look intothe family background and the behaviour of the intended parents butmainly concentrates on investigating the health of the surrogatemother. Therefore, any couple willing and capable of outsourcingsurrogacy services can do so without the agencies scrutinizing everydetail of their private lives as evident in David Farnell’s case(Allan, 2014). Besides, commercial surrogacy also makes it easy forsome unsuitable couples to have children even when normally theyshould not. Other ethical issues arise when the intended parents denythe child if he or she is born with health complications (Ciccarelli& Beckman, 2005). As such, it leaves the surrogate in a situationwhere they have to take care of a child they had no intention ofhaving. For example, in the case of baby Gammy, the surrogate motherclaimed that she was compelled to offer the surrogacy services, andin return, she would receive financial compensation to pay herfamily’s debt (Allan, 2014). However, baby Gammy was born with Downsyndrome, and the biological parents denied him. Additionally,Chanbua claimed that she did not receive all the money she waspromised. Besides, the biological parents, Wendy and David Farnell,initially claimed that they were not aware of the baby’s existence(Allan, 2014). Then, they denied that Gammy was their son furtherstating that they did not have any arrangement with that particularyoung woman. To make the situation worse, David Farnell is aconvicted sex offender, which puts Gammy’s twin sister at risk.Later, Gammy received contributions to cover his medical bills. Soonafter, David Farnell tried to access that money even though he deniedthe child who now lives with his surrogate mother in Australia(Allan, 2014). Gammy’s situation has showed the crucial ethicalquestions that arise in surrogacy cases making it an unfavourableoption for childlessness.
Themain legal issue surrounding surrogacy is the parental rights for thesurrogate. The contract should be written, evaluated, and signed atthe beginning of the agreement between the surrogate and the intendedparents. It specifies the privileges and responsibilities of partiesas well as compensation and parental rights for the surrogate(Ciccarelli & Beckman, 2005). Although the surrogate and theintended parents make a legal arrangement to agree on the terms ofthe services, some legal disputes may arise due to varioussituations. For example, in the case of Gammy, a dispute arose whenhe was born with Down syndrome (Allan, 2014). It resulted in a legaldispute where the surrogate presented a case showing how thebiological parents violated the initial contract.
Thenagain, it introduces the ethical issue of exploitation. As explained,surrogacy is an expensive process, which means that it is mainlyreserved for the couples who can afford to pay for the services(Ciccarelli & Beckman, 2005). On the other hand, the agenciesmostly look for young women from poor backgrounds to be a surrogatemother on the promise of worthwhile financial compensation. In suchsituation, it may result in the exploitation of the poor womanespecially if the baby does not turn out as the intended parentsexpected like Gammy’s case.
Inconclusion, although surrogacy is a prevalent option for childlesscouples, there are strong emotional, ethical, and legal argumentsagainst it. Instead of adoption, which allows couples to havechildren with whom they do not have any blood relations, some couplesopt to have gestational surrogacy where they will have a child who isgenetically theirs. However, the foetus inevitably develops aconnection with the gestational mother. After birth, this connectiondoes not develop further when the child is taken by the biologicalparents. As such, it causes emotional harm to the child, where evenif he or she develops a connection with the primary caregiver, he orshe may have a problem developing successful relationships. Likewise,breaking the bond can also affect the surrogate mother. Legal issuesmay also arise when either of the persons involved defect from theagreement of the contract drafted during the initial stages of thesurrogacy arrangement. Additionally, ethical issues arise in caseswhere the surrogate is exploited to offer her services. Finally,there is no doubt that surrogacy brings joy to childless couples butit is not harmless. Thus, the emotional harm, legal, and ethicalissues associated with surrogacy should not be dismissed lightly.
Allan,S. (2014). BabyGammy Case Reveals Murky Side Of Commercial Surrogacy.Retrieved fromhttp://theconversation.com/baby-gammy-case-reveals-murky-side-of-commercial-surrogacy-30081
Ciccarelli,J. & Beckman, L. (2005). Navigating Rough Waters: An Overview ofPsychological Aspects of Surrogacy. Journalof Social Issues,61(1), 21-43.