Surrogacy refers to a contractual arrangement, wherein a woman agrees to get pregnant and deliver a child for a couple who cannot achieve pregnancy. A surrogate mother can become just the gestational carrier, where she becomes pregnant by the implantation of the couples’ embryo. Otherwise, she can act as a genetic mother, wherein she gets inseminated with the sperm of a biological father or a donor. Surrogacy is one of the methods that help couples facing fertility problems to have a biological child of their own. But, this method of reproductive technology has far-reaching ethical consequences and is one of the most debated issues.
Relinquishment of the Infant
The strongest ethical implication of the surrogacy is the relinquishment of the infant. According to the contact of surrogacy, a surrogate mother bears the child only with intent of surrendering the infant to the contract couple soon after his birth. The surrogate mother has to agree to bear child for others and gives up all the parental rights on the infant on relinquishing. Similarly, the intended parents must agree to accept and take full responsibility of the infant.
Though there are several countries that support surrogacy, there are a plenty of ethical issues involved. Following are some of these important concerns:
- Issue 1: Surrogate motherhood will create a separation of genetic, gestational and social parenthood. It also depersonalizes the human reproduction. Many people are against this surrogacy arrangement for having a child, as they believe that it is against the will of the God.
- Issue 2: In surrogacy, child is conceived for the sake of others. Through artificial methods of reproduction, a woman gets pregnant for the benefit of an infertile couple. These procedures can lead to the birth of abnormal children in some cases.
- Issue 3: Surrogate mother can refuse to surrender the infant to the contract couples. Rights of a biological mother and her emotional attachment to her infant cannot be governed by the legal agreement and clauses involved in it. This also questions the roles of male and female in the creation of offspring and how the rights of a nurturer can differ from a child’s progenitor.
- Issue 4: Surrendering the just-born infant to contract couples is just like selling a baby. Physical separation of the infant from its mother soon after birth can have long-term effects on the infant’s well-being.
- Issue 5: Unused embryos of surrogate are left to thaw and degenerate, which is an inhumane practice.
- Issue 6: Unused embryos of the surrogate are sold to others as a commercial transaction. This can promote a perception of child bearing as "product generation" rather than as a natural reproduction process.
- Issue 7: Surrogate motherhood can endanger the life of the surrogate mother. It is opposed on the grounds that the gestation and delivery of a child can put a woman’s life in danger unless she has rights to enjoy the joy of bringing up the child.