Pros and Cons of Surrogacy
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How suffer is it for women unable to get pregnant? In Harymurti et al.’s (2007) article about the low birthrate in Japan, women are blamed for the responsible to give birth as Hakuo Yanagisawa, the minister of health, labor and welfare in Japan, had labeled them as the “birth-giving machines”. Although women have the responsibility to give birth, some of them might face some difficulties. This can be proven by a survey done by Keefer. In United States, there are about 10 percent of women between ages 15 to 44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant (Keefer, n.d.). Unfortunately, women have the ability to get pregnant, but some of them are unable or unwilling to get pregnant. This is because they are facing some health problems or worrying about their body shapes will get distorted. Anyway, the desire of having their own child would not exterminate, especially for the infertile couples. Thus, surrogacy provides a way for them to have a child by using a third party to carry the child until birth. To begin, the couple must first search for a surrogate mother who is willing to help them and able to get pregnant.
Based on what Worell (2001) had defined, surrogate mother is “a woman who enters into a contract for the gestation of her own or another woman’s fertilized ovum and for the relinquishing of her parental rights to the newborn baby” (p. 919). According to The Surrogacy SOURCE (n.d.), the surrogate requirements are in the age ranges of 21 to 38, have delivered at least one child that she is currently raising, have had past pregnancies without complications, is a non-smoker, non-drug user, have no history of arrests, do not exceed a body mass index of 30 and have undergo certain medical examinations. There are two types of surrogacy which are straight and host (Surrogacy UK [SUK], n.d.). Straight surrogacy is also known as traditional surrogacy (SUK, n.d.). It is the simplest and cheaper form of surrogacy compared to the host (SUK, n.d.). It usually results from artificial insemination (SUK, n.d.). Artificial insemination is the fertilization of a female with sperm from a male partner or donor (Worell, 2001). The sperm of the male is placed in the uterus at the time of a fertile woman’s ovulation (Worell, 2001).
It can be done by the woman herself without any medical supervision (Worell, 2001). On the other hand, host surrogacy is also known as gestational surrogacy which is more complicated and expensive than the straight surrogacy (SUK, n.d.). It generally results from in vitro fertilization or IVF (SUK, n.d.). IVF is a method that consists of inducing the hyperovulation, collecting the ova from the woman’s body, inseminating the ova with sperm and freezing the high quality embryos back into the woman’s uterus (Worell, 2001). The surrogate mother does not use her own eggs but uses the eggs of the intended mother or the donor during this process (SUK, n.d.). Therefore, she is naturally unrelated to the baby (SUK, n.d.). Furthermore, the intended parents can know the sex of the child through the method of IVF which can also let the parents choose the embryos that are free of genes for diseases they have or carry (Worell, 2001).
Nonetheless, a successful pregnancy is still influenced by the factors of the age of patients, age of the surrogate mother, knowledge of medical personnel, quality of eggs, sperm and embryos, timing of the process of insemination, endometrial and hormone levels, the latest technologies and the mother nature that we cannot control (WeeCare Partners USA LLC [WCPU], n.d.). After knowing all, the couple can choose the type of surrogacy according to their situation. However, they still need to be conscious of the advantages and disadvantages of surrogacy that has brought to them as well as the surrogate mother. There are several advantages and disadvantages that the intended parents must consider before they decide on surrogacy. One of the advantages is surrogacy provides an alternative to adoption (Keefer, n.d.). Most people tend to prefer surrogacy more than adoption when overcoming the problem of infertility because they can be involved in the process of pregnancy. Through surrogacy, couples with infertile problems or single parents can still experience the joy of creating a new life (Hendricks, n.d.). Whereas adoption only pays money for a child and sometimes it may contains a lot of legal issues.
Also, surrogacy can benefit individuals or infertile couples by allowing them to have their own children who are biologically related to at least one of them (Borlongan, 2009). Since the baby is their own child, they will be more closely attached and emotionally linked to the child. It is great for single fathers or mothers who are unable to carry babies naturally. Besides, they can choose between the two types of surrogacy which is best fit to their situations (Hendricks, n.d.). For examples, if the woman is fertile but has problems on health, she can choose the method of IVF, in which she contributes her eggs and her partner’s sperm for the surrogate mother to carry (Hendricks, n.d.). If the woman is infertile, the couple can still choose the straight surrogacy, by using her partner’s sperm and the eggs from the surrogate mother (Hendricks, n.d.). Additionally, surrogacy can establish a lifelong relationship between the intended parents and the surrogate mother that she could play a positive role in the life of the child and the parents (Borlongan, 2009). In contrast to the advantages, surrogacy has a lot of disadvantages.
One of the disadvantages is the high cost (Borlongan, 2009). A survey done in 2009 found that the average cost of surrogacy ranged from 25 thousand dollars to 100 thousand dollars (Borlongan, 2009). This is because the cost has to cover everything, such as medical fees, agency fees, fees to hire a surrogate mother, fees to get the necessities of the surrogate mother, legal fees and adoption fees (Borlongan, 2009). Furthermore, surrogacy is also time-consuming (Borlongan, 2009). Basically, the couple will need some times to research some information about surrogacy agencies (Borlongan, 2009). Then, they will need to find a woman who is willing to become surrogate mother and meets all those requirements. Next, surrogacy will also waste a lot of time on numerous attempts at fertilization and waiting the baby to be formed (Borlongan, 2009). Moreover, if the time to save the money and run through the legal procedure of adopting the child later is considered, it will take some years (Borlongan, 2009). In addition, the intended parents cannot arbitrarily control the behavior of the surrogate mother or they may have different opinions (Pearce, n.d.).
To illustrate, the intended parents cannot control the surrogate mother when she refuses to go through certain medical tests (Pearce, n.d.). The surrogate mother may smoke or take drugs without informing the intended parents. Other than that, the partner of the surrogate mother might intercourse with her before her pregnancy is confirmed (Pearce, n.d.). Perhaps, she may agree do not to have sex with anyone, but it always occurs a possibility that she will broke up the rule and ends up with her partner’s child (Pearce, n.d.). Sometimes, legal issues may arise when the surrogate mother refuses to contribute the child to the intended parents after the child is born (Pearce, n.d.). As a result, this is very difficult for the judge to decide who owns the parental rights of the child since surrogacy laws vary from state to state. Conversely, for a woman decides to be a surrogate mother, she needs to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages. Surrogate mothers are known as to offer a child for childless couples (Lott-Harrison, n.d.). This action is actually a charitable behavior that not everyone is able to do so.
Through this, surrogate mothers can experience the great joys of bringing a new life to the world and giving happiness to childless couples (Griffin, 2012). Another advantage of surrogate mothers is that they can get financial compensation from the intended parents (Lott-Harrison, n.d.). The surrogacy agencies websites reveal that a surrogate mother can earn 18 thousand dollars to 50 thousand dollars per pregnancy, which includes the fees of necessities, insurances and health benefits (Lott-Harrison, n.d.). This not only supports them to have a better life, but also a way to let them release from their debts that they owed. Surrogate mothers do share an advantage, lifelong relationship, with the intended parents (Circle Surrogacy, n.d.). For example, when the surrogate mother searches for help, the intended parent will most likely to help her because they believe without her, they will not get the child. The surrogate mother also can gain an advantage from there to have a child without spending any fees to raise. In contrast to the advantages, there do also have some disadvantages for a woman to decide before she becomes a surrogate mother.
First of all, surrogate mothers are required to run through several medical tests to ensure that their bodies are healthy enough to carry and give birth to a child (Lott-Harrison, n.d.). These medical tests might put her in stressful and exhausted conditions. Moreover, surrogate mothers might have put their health on the risk (Lott-Harrison, n.d.). She may run through the risk of experiencing difficulties related to pregnancy and this may bring a negative effect on her health. Probably, she will be required by the intended parents to abort the child during the pregnancy if they discover the baby has some sort of birth defect (Moutria, n.d.). Additionally, surrogate mothers may have emotional and psychologically problems in surrogacy (Sammarco, n.d.). For instance, when the baby is born, it is a difficult task for her to give the baby away (Moutria, n.d.). She may feel guilty when the intended parents ask for giving up the baby. In some cases, this guilt can change her mind. As in Cohen’s (2013) reported news about surrogate mother, Kelly, who is the surrogate mother, was asked to abort the deformed child by the intended parents. However, Kelly refused to abort the child and ended up with legal issues (Cohen, 2013). Unfortunately, sometimes scams involving surrogacy do occur when the feelings of the intended parents change or medical complication arise (Keefer, n.d.).
An unpaid medical bill is very common in this case (Keefer, n.d.). If the intended parents do not pay, the hospital will generally look for the surrogate mother to pay all the bills (Keefer, n.d.). In conclusion, surrogacy comes along with both advantages and disadvantages. Even though it provides an alternative to adoption and helps homosexual and infertile couples to have their own biological child, it also contains several disadvantages, such as high cost, time-consuming and legal issues. On the other side, even if surrogacy might help surrogate mother to earn high income and provide a chance to build lifelong relationship with the intended parents, it also comes along with some problems which might contain scams or affect the health of her life.
Apart from that, the surrogate mother needs to go through several uncomfortable tests and her emotional and psychological problems may also arise. I believe that surrogacy is the only way and the only hope for those people to have their own biological child. Surrogate mothers are great and I think they can be entitled as the angels who give hope to these people. While some might see it as an opportunity to earn money, I believe that some will do it for the purpose of kindness. No matter what the purpose is, being a surrogate mother is not an easy job. Not everyone is able to hand over a child that they have carried nine months to someone else. If I were a woman, I think I would not do so because I believe it takes a really special strong type of woman to be able to do this.
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