The Ethics of Surrogacy

Topics: Surrogacy, Pregnancy, Baby M Pages: 7 (2400 words) Published: April 3, 2011
The Ethics of Surrogacy
There is controversy surrounding the concept of surrogacy in the United States. There is nothing in federal legislature the addresses the issue directly. Different States have different laws concerning surrogacy. Some forbid it and some enforce surrogacy contracts in court. Finding a surrogate mother, for some is their last chance to have a child that is biologically their own. There are people that believe that surrogacy is morally wrong for several reasons. I believe that if it is done properly then it can be a blessing for a family that would not have been able to have their own children, otherwise. History

There is documentation of people using surrogate mothers as far back as the old testament of the bible. In Genesis chapter 16, Sarah is unable to bear children so she gives her slave, Hagar to her husband, Abraham so that she may bear his children (Got Questions, 2002-2011). Modern Science has made being a surrogate mother possible without having physical contact with the intended father. There are two types of surrogacy that are used. There is traditional surrogacy, where the surrogate’s own eggs are used and fertilized by the intended father’s sperm. Then there is gestational surrogacy, where a donor egg is fertilized by the intended father’s sperm, then, the resulting embryo is implanted into the surrogate’s womb. The first recorded case of surrogacy in the United States was in 1976. Noel Keane, a lawyer, arranged the first surrogacy agreement between a surrogate mother and the intended parents. This mother was not compensated financially. Afterwards, Keane went on to create the Infertility Center, which arranged hundreds of surrogacy agreements every year (Information on Surrogacy, 2008-2011). In 1978, Louise Joy Brown was the first baby that was born through in-vitro fertilization. She was not born to a surrogate but this paved the way for gestational surrogacy (Information on Surrogacy, 2008-2011). In 1980, the first surrogate mother to receive compensation gave birth to a son by traditional surrogacy. She was paid $10,000. She was considered a perfect candidate for traditional surrogacy because she already had children of her own and had given a child up for adoption before she was married. She surrendered her parental rights when the child was born but she lived to regret her decision and later became an advocate against surrogacy (Information on Surrogacy, 2008-2011). In 1985, the first gestational surrogacy took place. The egg was taken from a mother who had a hysterectomy but still had her ovaries (Information on Surrogacy, 2008-2011). In 1986, Mary Beth Whitehead, a traditional surrogate mother, gave birth to Melissa Stern. This is the famous case of Baby M. When the baby was born, Mary Beth decided that she could not give her up. There were all kinds of legal action from both Mary Beth and her husband and from the Sterns, who were the intended parents. In the end, the Sterns got full custody of Melissa and Mary Beth was given visitation rights. After the case of Baby M, most surrogacy agencies used gestational rather than traditional surrogacy (Information on Surrogacy, 2008-2011). From 1976 to 1988 there were about 600 babies born to surrogates in the United States. In the last two decades the numbers have risen significantly and there have been thousands of babies born to surrogates every year. Since 2002 there have been several cases of women in their 50’s and 60’s that gave birth to their own grandchildren because their daughters were unable to carry children (Information on Surrogacy, 2008-2011). Ethical Principles

Human Dignity
Surrogacy brings up a lot of ethical questions. Is surrogacy for money a violation of human dignity? Many people seeking surrogates in the United States end up outsourcing to India. Many Indian women, enticed by being able to make in nine months what most Indian families wouldn’t make in many years are...

References: Drabiak, Katherine, Wegner, Carole, Fredland, Valita, and Helft, Paul R.
(2007) Ethics, Law, and Commercial Surrogacy: A Call for Uniformity
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Flashing, Sarah (February 1, 2008) Discount Babies, Discounting Dignity.
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