Surrogacy – A Gift of Modern Science

Surrogacy is the term used when a woman agrees to become pregnant and deliver a child for a contracted party. This gives infertile couples the opportunity to enjoy the fundamental right of parenting children. Homosexual couples and even single men and single women can fulfill their dream of parenthood using this gift of modern science.

Surrogacy is chosen by aspiring parents due to a variety of causes which include failure of the embryo to implant, repeated miscarriage, hysterectomy or a pelvic disorder. Some women experience problems such as dangerously high blood pressure, a heart condition or liver disease, so that pregnancy would entail a serious health risk for them.

There are two types of surrogacy options: traditional and gestational. A traditional surrogate is a woman who donates her own egg and then carries the pregnancy. The surrogate’s egg is fertilized through artificial insemination with the sperm of the father or a sperm donor. A gestational surrogate, also known as a gestational carrier, isn’t biologically or genetically related to the child she carries. Gestational carriers become pregnant through the process of in vitro fertilization, where an embryo or embryos created from the eggs and sperm of the intended parents (or donor egg and donor sperm selected by the intended parents) are implanted in the uterus for the gestational period of 40 weeks. Intended parents and surrogates must also consider the type of surrogacy arrangement they are comfortable with. There are two common types of arrangements: commercial and altruistic. An altruistic surrogate receives no financial reward while a commercial surrogate is compensated for her time and effort. However in both cases, all expenses related to the pregnancy and birth are paid by the intended parents.

Surrogates can be the friends or relatives or acquaintances of the commissioning parents. A potential surrogate must be in good overall health and be able to undergo a pregnancy with the minimum amount of risk to her own health. But being a surrogate mother is an emotionally and physically demanding task. It is important that a woman considering this option has the backing of a partner, family or friends to provide emotional support and practical help throughout and after the pregnancy. Careful consideration must be given to the medical, emotional, legal and practical issues, and to the implications of surrendering the child at birth.

Surrogacy is one of the most expensive solutions to infertility and is an option that not every couple can afford. In a developed country it is estimated that the entire cost of surrogacy including payment for a surrogate mother ranges between US$50,000 and $100,000. But these costs are as low as one tenth in developing countries like India.

Opinion on the morality of surrogacy is divided. Surrogacy is legally accepted in some countries while it is still not allowed in many countries. This has spawned a new area of law that is challenging and complicated. However, most of the developed and developing nations have accepted this scientific process of converting a childless couple to happy parents readily.

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