Ethics and History
Many cultures maybe averse to the idea of surrogate motherhood, but it has been practiced throughout history and is accepted by many people who are aware of the difficulties of pregnancy and believe strongly in the practice. The practice is even mentioned in the bible where Hagar bears Abraham’s baby for Abraham and his wife to raise as they were not able to conceive.
Noel Keane is a lawyer who introduced to society the concept of surrogate motherhood as a legal contract between two parties. After he met Dr. Warren J. Ringold who started doing the Artificial Insemination procedure at his private practice, he was able to carry out his ideas. The politicians and press were strongly opposed to the idea but they aided the passage of laws to legitimatize the surrogate motherhood. The same laws were presented for approval to the state of California but were not passed. Currently 8 states in the US have clear laws governing the process of surrogate motherhood.
The controversial case in 1986 where Melissa Stern who was a surrogate mother did not want to relinquish the baby to the biological parents was debated throughout the world. The courts in New Jersey eventually recognized the surrogacy laws and ruled in favor of the biological parents.
Many countries, including Turkey, automatically accept the birth mother as the legal mother of a child. Consequently, families who go abroad to have a child through a surrogate mother face a complicated legal situation when the return home. The accepted route is for the birth mom to be recorded on the birth certificate and then the baby is adopted by the intended parents.
Surrogacy is legal in some countries in which case the biological parents are recorded on the birth certificate. When a family returns to their home country after having a child through surrogacy, the legal situation of the child remains uncertain.
Surrogacy is illegal in Turkey as well as sperm and egg donation. Families who have children through surrogacy can record the father on the birth certificate, if the surrogate mother is unmarried. Babies born out of wedlock can be registered under the biological father’s name. Another option is for the biological parents to adopt the baby. As there have been no lawsuits regarding this subject, there is no legal precedent. Presumably, if the surrogate mother refuses to give the baby up, the contract between the surrogate and intended parents will not be valid in Turkey.
The surrogate mother is accepted as the legal mother in all of Australia. Contracts between the surrogate mother and the intended parents prior to the baby’s birth are not legal. Many states have also banned commercial surrogacy, and agencies that match surrogates with prospective parents. New South Wales is the only state where there are no laws governing surrogacy.
Despite the legal situation in this country, an Australian senator named Stephen Conroy and his wife announced publicly that they were going to have a child through oocyte donation and surrogacy. Because the biological father is Conroy, his name was recorded on the birth certificate as the legal father. Normally couples in Australia must start adoption proceedings especially if the surrogate mother is married.
Surrogacy is legally banned in France.
Commercial surrogacy was legalized in 2002. Surrogacy has become a 450 million dollar per year industry. Poverty in India, highly-qualified doctors and low costs have made this country an ideal source of surrogate mothers.
Surrogacy and agencies for surrogacy were banned legally in March 2008.
Surrogacy is legally banned in England.
Surrogacy agencies have been outlawed in Washington, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and New York. Surrogacy is legal in additional four states but contracts between surrogate mothers and the intended parents are not valid.
California is has the most lenient and the biological parents can record their names on the child’s birth certificate.
Surrogacy is legal in Oregon, Texas and Arkansas but Texas laws require that the surrogate mother live in Texas. Arkansas does not have any restrictions making it the most legally relaxed state for surrogacy.
Ethics of Surrogacy
According to research done in City University, London in 2002 surrogate mothers do get attached to and have difficulty giving up the baby. Studies also show that prospective parents get more attached to their children and are more attentive than those who have had children the conventional way.
Commercial surrogacy has become an industry especially in India. Some people believe this is an unethical practice from the surrogate’s standpoint. Opponents believe that surrogates are inadequately paid, are at a higher risk of pregnancy related complications and deaths. On the other hand, in a country like India where competent medical care is inaccessible, surrogates can receive top quality medical care, balanced diet and shelter during their pregnancy.