Last week, the issue of surrogacy returned to the news when Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal vetoed legislation allowing for legal surrogacy births. Here are nine things you should know about surrogacy.
1. A surrogate mother is a woman who carries and gives birth to the child of another woman, who is usually infertile, by way of a pre-arranged legal contract. There are two main types of surrogacy, gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy.
2. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine estimates there were 400 to 600 surrogate births annually from 2003 to 2007, the last year for which data is available. Support groups and agencies say the total number since 1976 may exceed 30,000.
3. In gestational surrogacy, the pregnancy results from the transfer of an embryo created by in-vitro fertilization (IVF), in a manner so the resulting child is genetically unrelated to the surrogate. Gestational surrogate mothers are also referred to as gestational carriers.
4. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother is impregnated naturally or artificially, but the resulting child is genetically related to the surrogate mother. A traditional surrogate is the baby’s biological mother since the child was conceived from the union of her egg and the father’s sperm.
5. If the surrogate mother receives compensation beyond the reimbursement of medical and other reasonable expenses, the arrangement is called commercial surrogacy; otherwise, it is referred to as altruistic surrogacy. The laws forbidding or allowing both altruistic and commercial surrogacy vary from state-to-state.
6. In a commercial surrogacy arrangement in the U.S., the surrogate mother is typically paid $20,000 to $25,000, which averages approximately $3.00 per hour for each hour she is pregnant, based on a pregnancy of 266 days or 6,384 hours.
7. Almost all Christian bioethicists agree that most forms of surrogacy are theologically problematic. As Scott B. Rae and Paul M. Cox explain, surrogacy violates the creation norm for marriage, family, and procreation, by introducing a third-party contributor, either in the form of a womb donor or a womb and an egg donor.
8. Many, if not most, Christian bioethicists and legal scholars would agree that commercial surrogacy is morally and legally problematic since it constitutes the sale of a child. Some even claim it is a form of human trafficking. The general consensus is that such arrangements violate the human dignity of the child and the gestational mother.
9. One surrogacy arrangement that some Christian bioethicists believe may at times be morally acceptable is “rescue surrogacy,” when a surrogate mother volunteers her womb to save an IVF-created embryo that has been frozen and is destined for destruction.