Type the words “surrogacy controversy” into your web browser, and you’ll be inundated with sensationalized headlines about surrogacy scandals, scholarly articles detailing the social ramifications of this family-building process, and fierce arguments for and against surrogacy.
If you are considering surrogacy yourself, either as a hopeful parent or a prospective surrogate, this surrogacy debate can be alarming. You might be wondering, “Is surrogacy morally or socially wrong? What are the issues with surrogacy that I need to be aware of? Is it even possible to practice surrogacy ethically?”
At American Surrogacy, we are committed to completing every surrogacy to the highest ethical standards. When completed correctly, we believe that surrogacy can be an overwhelmingly positive experience that benefits everyone involved — the surrogate, intended parents and, most importantly, the child.
However, we also recognize that nothing is perfect, and there are some surrogacy issues worth considering. Here, we’re examining some of the common arguments for and against surrogacy so you can better understand this hotly debated topic.
Why is Surrogacy Controversial?
To understand the potential benefits and issues of surrogacy, it’s first important to have a basic understanding of the different types of surrogacy and the way this process actually works today.
There are two basic types of surrogacy:
- Gestational surrogacy: The most common type of surrogacy today, in which the surrogate has no genetic relationship to the baby she carries.
- Traditional surrogacy: A very rare form of surrogacy today, in which the surrogate’s own egg is fertilized using sperm from an intended father or donor via IVF or intrauterine insemination in the lab.
Surrogacy can also be categorized by the financial arrangements made between the intended parents and surrogate:
- Compensated surrogacy: Surrogacy in which the surrogate is compensated for her time, energy, sacrifice and participation in the surrogacy process.
- Altruistic surrogacy: Surrogacy in which the surrogate is not paid a base compensation beyond reimbursement of her medical and legal expenses.
Finally, surrogacy can further be categorized by where it takes place:
- Domestic surrogacy: Surrogacy in which the intended parents work with a surrogate living within their own country. Because American Surrogacy is a U.S. surrogacy program, we define domestic surrogacy as a surrogacy completed within the United States.
- International surrogacy: Surrogacy in which intended parents work with a surrogate living in a different country. Because the U.S. surrogacy process is well-regulated, foreign intended parents can complete an international surrogacy in the United States safely, ethically and legally. However, there are many ethical issues with surrogacy in some other parts of the world, especially in developing countries — and this is where much of the surrogacy controversy stems from.
So, why is there so much controversy surrounding surrogacy? Often, it’s because of misinformation. In fact, many anti-surrogacy arguments revolve around misconceptions about the modern-day gestational surrogacy process. Many people don’t know that today, the vast majority of surrogacies are gestational, not traditional. They may not understand why surrogates receive compensation or how that compensation is regulated. And they may assume that because of certain ethical dilemmas in international surrogacy, the same applies to surrogacy completed in the United States.
What are the Arguments Against Surrogacy?
There is no shortage of people ready to point out reasons why surrogacy is “bad” or “wrong.” However, when examining the arguments against surrogacy, it’s important to keep in mind the various types of surrogacy; not all of these arguments will apply to every type of surrogacy completed today.
- Surrogacy commodifies the human body. A common anti-surrogacy argument is that the practice (particularly of commercial surrogacy and particularly in developing countries) commodifies babies and women’s bodies. Some have even gone so far as comparing surrogacy to prostitution, arguing that in both cases, women “sell” intimate, physical services.
- Surrogacy exploits women. Critics of surrogacy argue that intended parents who “use” surrogates are interested only in their reproductive ability; they see this practice as “womb-renting,” especially when the woman carrying the pregnancy is in a financially disadvantageous position to the intended parents. This is especially true in international surrogacy, where women may be particularly vulnerable and surrogate compensation can be especially life-altering.
- Surrogacy is risky. There are, of course, inherent risks involved in any pregnancy, and surrogacy critics sometimes point to these medical risks as a reason to be against surrogacy. They also argue that children born through assisted reproduction may be at greater risk for certain health conditions (though there is no evidence that this is true). Additionally, those against surrogacy may argue that the process is legally, emotionally and financially risky, citing highly publicized and sensationalized cases (like the “Baby M” case or the “Baby Gammy” case) as evidence — even though these cases are not at all representative of most surrogacies completed today.
- Surrogacy goes against religion. Finally, some object to surrogacy on religious grounds. Many religions emphasize the importance of a husband and wife conceiving naturally on their own, and assisted reproduction is sometimes viewed as going against these religious beliefs.
What are Some Arguments for Surrogacy?
At the same time, just as many people will argue for reasons why surrogacy is good — not just for hopeful parents who desperately want to have a baby but also for the generous surrogates who help them to reach this goal. Advocates for surrogacy will tell you:
- Surrogacy is mutually beneficial for the parties involved. For intended parents, surrogacy offers the chance to finally have the child they’ve always dreamed of. Surrogacy gives LGBT parents and couples struggling with infertility an opportunity for parenthood they may not have otherwise. Surrogacy also offers many benefits for surrogates, financially and emotionally.
- Surrogates are compensated fairly for their services. Some argue that surrogate compensation commodifies human life, but it’s important to understand the reality of a surrogate’s commitment and the importance of paying her in exchange for these services and sacrifices. It’s also worth noting that there are protections in place to ensure vulnerable women are not forced into surrogacy in the United States; surrogacy professionals require women to be able to support themselves and their family without state assistance in order to be a surrogate.
- Surrogacy professionals minimize risks. Through a careful screening and selection process, surrogacy professionals ensure all prospective surrogates and intended parents are truly prepared for the process ahead of them. This is done to minimize risks to everyone involved, especially the surrogate. Surrogacy attorneys also work closely with intended parents and surrogates to ensure their rights and interests are protected, eliminating legal risks, as well. And, contrary to popular belief, the emotional risks to surrogates are minimal; because most surrogates are not related to the children they carry, the vast majority report no emotional complications with the process.
- Everyone has a voice in the surrogacy process. In domestic surrogacy, intended parents and surrogates enter into the process knowingly and willingly. Screening and counseling services are offered to ensure every prospective surrogate and intended parent is motivated to do surrogacy for the right reasons, and every party plays an active role in the process.
Should Surrogate Motherhood be Allowed?
So, after reviewing both sides of the argument, should surrogacy be allowed? We tend to think so. Should society regulate the practice of surrogacy? Absolutely.
At American Surrogacy, we are able to say with confidence that the surrogates, intended parents and children involved in our program all benefit from the process — and that’s largely because surrogacy issues in the United States are minimized by the well-defined laws and processes that are in place here.
By working with a trusted U.S. surrogacy professional like American Surrogacy, you can ensure that every step of your surrogacy process is legal, ethical and well-regulated, and that everyone involved in your journey is protected from start to finish.
To learn more about surrogacy, or to start your journey now, please contact our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-22299(BABY).