Surrogate Mothers

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“Being a surrogate is like giving an organ transplant to someone,” says Jennifer Cantor, “only before you die, and you actually get to see their joy.”

That’s one way to look at it.  Another is the way far-left feminists describe it: they “liken gestational carriers to prostitutes who degrade themselves by renting out their bodies.” Even using the term “gestational carrier” is an  attempt to downplay the fact that a surrogate looks an awful lot like the mother of the baby she is carrying. (Nowadays, most surrogacy agreements stipulate that the woman who carries the baby cannot also donate the egg in order to avoid custody battles.)

Whether or not you agree with the practice, it’s an ever-increasing one. Numbers are hard to come by because not all clinics report their surrogacy cases and private agreements don’t show up in the statistics. But the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), which is the only organization trying to track surrogate births, reported a 30% increase from 2003 to 2006. What is clear is that the demand is exceeding the supply. This is partly because surrogacy is illegal in many countries world-wide, including Iceland, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Australia, and Spain.

IVF (in vitro fertilization) makes it possible for a couple to contribute both egg and sperm which legally removes the surrogate’s claim on the baby. She is truly a gestational product or incubator. That doesn’t mean that it is always easy for the surrogate to walk away from the baby she grew in her own body. But it certainly makes it easier. Estimates are as high as 90% for a successful transfer of the baby if the surrogacy is handled through a reputable agency. The costs can be high–$40,000 to $120,000 for medical bills and payment to the surrogate–but the results are apparently worth it.

One thing that industry watchers couldn’t have anticipated a few years ago is that surrogacy is popular among military wives as a way to supplement their family’s low income and/or a way to contribute to others.  There is also the advantage of having military health care, which so far has covered surrogate births.

To read more and to meet some surrogate mothers, read this article from the April 7, 2008 issue of Newsweek magazine.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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