HCA 322: Health Care Ethics and Medical Law
A Deeper Look into Ethics and Laws Regarding Surrogacy
When one or more persons contract with a woman to gestate a child than relinquish that child after birth to the person or couple is known as surrogacy. It is a course of action that goes outside of natural reproduction. For some, it is the only method of having children, extending family. Surrogacy has been stirring up many controversies over the years. Ethics, morals, laws, religious views, etc. have played a major role in the issues that follow the topic of surrogacy. Laws and regulations pertaining to surrogacy vary from state to state. Some states have no enforceable laws towards surrogacy, while others only permit surrogacy contracts that are uncompensated arrangements and gestational agreements (Trimarchi, 2011). Some states prohibit same sex couples from entering into any form of surrogacy contracts. In this paper, I will be address the legal and ethical issues involved and other aspects of surrogacy. History of Surrogacy and Case Study
Surrogacy was assumed to have been around since the Babylonian times. Alternatively, the most credible records to date allocate managing legal passivity and the public responses during the middle of the 20th century. Surrogacy did not become public in 1976, when Attorney Noel Keane negotiated the first ever surrogacy agreement ("History of surrogacy," 2011). Attorney Noel Keane and Dr. Ringold created the first ever fertility clinic (surrogacy clinic) in the United States. Many laws and regulations were not implemented until the case of Elizabeth Kane and the case of Baby M.
Elizabeth Kane was the first woman to enter into a compensated surrogacy agreement in 1980. She was to be compensated with $10,000. She, however, was unwilling to leave the surrogacy agreement without the baby. It was the decision of the court to not grant custody of the child to Elizabeth Kane due to her signing a legal contract. This is the case known for starting the implementation of some laws in some states.
In 1986, Mary Beth Whitehead (surrogate mother) and the Stern family entered into a surrogacy agreement. This is the notorious case of 'Baby M.' It was agreed that Whitehead would receive $10,000 if the child were born healthy, and the surrogate maintained the guidelines and restrictions stated in the contract. However, if there was a case of miscarriage or still born, Whitehead would only receive $1,000. Also, once the child was born Mrs. Stern could legally adopt the child. Once the child was born, Whitehead decided she did not want to give custody of the child to the Sterns. She fled the state and was soon taken into custody. Judge Sorkow, ruled that custody of Baby M would be given to the Stern family, enforcing the surrogacy contract. Whitehead was also deemed an unfit mother. Mrs. Stern was given permission to adopt Baby M. Whitehead appealed the court's decision. New Jersey's Supreme Court overturned Judge Sorkow's ruling, invalidating commercial surrogacy contracts as a disguised form of baby-selling (Tong, 2011). Whitehead was granted visitation to baby M. Cases like 'Baby M' assisted in triggering some but not many regulations on surrogacy.
Ethics and morals, and forms of discrimination against women arose after the case of 'Baby M.' Some believed that the ruling was justified, whereas others felt that it exploited financially unstable, young, minority women searching for an easy way to earn cash (Tong, 2011). The case of 'Baby M,' had some thinking that if Mrs. Whitehead were financially stable, like the Stern Family, she would've been granted full custody of the child. On the other hand, those favoring the decision stated that most surrogacy advocates chose women who are 20-30 and have had a child. They also noted that majority of surrogates chosen are Caucasian women. Surrogate agencies now seek women who are...