A Surrogate Mother: The Science and the Ethics

There are lots of couples around the world who cannot get pregnant because of infertility. These couples constitute 20%. Unfortunately, statistics don’t reveal how many of them decide to use the help of a surrogate mother.

Those parents who decide in favor of this idea keep the birth of the future baby a secret together with a surrogate mother. As a rule, the woman has to “pretend” to be pregnant, take maternity leave, etc. Such a program gives a chance to women, whose wombs were surgically removed or who have some counter-indications towards bearing a child, to have a baby.

What is a Surrogate Mother?

In the case of surrogacy, the eggs, and the sperm are taken from the couple. The fertilized woman’s egg is implanted into another woman’s body – a surrogate mother. It was noticed, that embryos get accustomed to another woman’s uterus far better. The chance of the pregnancy happening is 30% and even more (70% according to some data).

The very first child from a surrogate mother was born in 1989 in the UK. The doctors took the egg from an infertile woman, fertilized it outside the body (in the lab), and implanted the embryo into another woman’s uterus. In nine months the woman who wasn’t able to bear a child on her own held a baby who was genetically hers. In 1995, the program surrogacy appeared abroad.

Nowadays there are around 1500 children who were born by surrogate mothers (some data indicate the number of 250,000 kids). Nevertheless, the opinions on this method of having a baby vary greatly.


Against Surrogate Mothers

The opponents of this idea believe that it makes the children look like a bargain, creating a situation where the rich can hire women to bear their offspring. They also claim that motherhood becomes a negotiated job; therefore, the desire to gain a profit can overcome the same mind and the use for both parties.

Besides, many feminists think, that this practice promotes the exploitation of women. Some church groups look at it as an immoral tendency that dehumanizes and weakens the sanctity of family and marriage.

There are also concerns that some surrogate mothers can be psychologically traumatized by the necessity to give away “their” babies after sharing the bond established for nine months of pregnancy and giving birth (even if at the beginning the women believed that it won’t be a problem at all).

In Favor of Surrogate Mothers

The followers of this idea point to the fact that for the family where the woman can’t conceive or bear the fetus this is the only way to get a baby who will be “their own” genetically, especially for the husband. They also mention that this procedure that allows getting the so-wanted child not really differs from the adoption.

According to their opinion, it is not the commercialization of child-bearing, but a spiritual deeply humane act of love and cooperation. Of course, this act includes some potential risks and dangers for a surrogate mother, but she is able to think over them and agree willingly to take all the risks. Thus, the decision to sign a contract won’t be riskier for her than for many other women who decide to do something dangerous with their lives.

The followers of surrogacy don’t think about it as if it was some kind of exploitation of women. They claim that the woman, who willingly decides to become a surrogate mother, gets proper material compensation and moral satisfaction from being useful to society.

What About a Baby?

The child can inherit some genetic defects from a surrogate mother only if her own egg was used to fertilize. Some of these defects can’t be learned using the newest methods in medicine.

The risk of damaging the fetus also takes place, but it happens because of the surrogate mother’s carelessness – for example if she does drugs or eats poorly during pregnancy.

The child’s psychological adaptation is also an important but unanswered question. If the child is explained (or he/she accidentally finds out) that he/she was born not by the mother but by some other woman, wouldn’t that become a burden and the source of problems and painful thoughts? And if the communication with a surrogate mother will go on after the birth (it happens if she is a relative or someone close to the family), how can it change the child in the future?

Despite all the contradictory opinions, we can suppose that surrogacy will continue to evolve and spread regardless of the opinion of the church or other people on this matter. There is no doubt that “your own” child will be closer psychologically than adopting one. But the psychological trauma connected with such an untraditional method of getting a baby doesn’t always just disappear for both parents-customers and surrogate mothers.


Surrogacy – True or False

The baby will have the blood of a surrogate mother. The truth is that the mother’s circulatory system is not connected to that of the fetus. So they won’t have that “blood link”, which is mentioned by many researchers on this topic.

The baby born by the surrogate mother will look a lot like her. It won’t happen unless it is her own baby.

The surrogate mother refuses the baby in the maternity hospital. Well, you can’t refuse what isn’t yours. When the baby is born the surrogate mother must immediately give consent to make a record for the biological parents. This consent is made in a written form and is confirmed by the seal of the medical institution where the birth took place.

Surrogacy is immoral and is against God’s will. Even the Bible describes how two biblical characters, Abraham and Jacob, used the services of surrogate mothers. Only those who haven’t read the bible can judge this process.

Surrogacy is for those who don’t want to waste their time bearing a child and ruin their bodies. This is far from the truth. Actually, it is the women who have some serious uterus pathologies or the latter is absent at all (and if the multiple IVF attempt failed) who have to turn to this method. Using surrogacy indicated not the unwillingness but inability to get pregnant. Every person who had to use this method suffered a great deal of grief. And only a surrogate mother gave them the chance to have a genetically “their” baby. The procedure is difficult for both, surrogate mothers and biological parents. The conception itself is a very difficult and aggressive intrusion into the woman’s body. And no one knows what the potential consequences might be.

Surrogate mothers often leave the babies to themselves. The law really allows for that to happen, because the surrogate mother needs to refuse the baby in a written form, and she can refuse to do that. In theory. It doesn’t work like that in practice. All the procedure is based on the contract that clearly states the rights and obligations of both parties. This ensures the interest of all the participants in the process. And the contract has a legal effect because it must be notarized.

It is a bit risky to use a surrogate mother in the early 50s. It is true. If the biological mother is expecting menopause, the risk to give birth to a baby with a maldevelopment is as high as it would be if you bear a child on your own. But modern methods of prenatal diagnostics allow indicating the genetic background of the fetus and possible malfunctions if any.

In Conclusion

The American studies conducted over the last few years have shown that people who in order to have a baby got help from surrogate mothers remain satisfied with this experience.

But nevertheless, one can’t judge the woman’s desire to become a mother. And if this is a method that can work wonders for somebody then it certainly has all the rights for existing.