Gestational carrier programs can present many legal and medical complications. Included in the emotional aspects of these programs are the worries about the health of the child and mother and the parental rights to any developing fetus or child. Below is an explanation of the risks involved with gestational carrier programs.
Legal Considerations and Risks
One of the biggest problems with gestational carrier programs is that they have been deemed illegal in many states. As such, courts will not require the carrier or the program to turn a child over to the donor parents. Contracts regarding the agreement are helpful sometimes, but will not clear any legal concerns in states where the programs themselves are illegal.
Another legal consideration and risk is that the carrier is technically the parent of the child. The law does not recognize that the egg and sperm donors used to create the child as having any rights to the child. Therefore, for the donors to obtain the child from the carrier, the carrier and the donors must enter into an adoption agreement. There is no guarantee that the carrier will agree to the adoption at the end of the pregnancy, and no legal recourse if she decides to keep the child.
Health Considerations of the Fetus
Despite the fetus being developed from donated egg and sperm, there are still chances for its health to be impacted by the carrier. If the carrier has an unknown condition or one that develops during the pregnancy, the fetus could come under severe stress resulting in birth defects or death. While programs thoroughly investigate carriers before accepting them into their program, some medical conditions are undetectable until they occur. Even though these conditions will not be genetically transferred to a child, they may nevertheless affect it's development, growth and birth.
Moreover, the child could be born with any number of genetic conditions due to the genetics of the donated egg and sperm. Using a carrier is no protection against genetic or physical abnormalities in the child. Therefore, the same concerns and risks associated with other babies attach to babies born via carriers.
Health Considerations of the Carrier
A carrier is an expectant woman like any other expectant woman, despite the fact that the egg is not technically from her body. As such, she is prone to developing the same illness, pregnancy complications and diseases as are all other pregnant women. While the majority of such conditions are manageable at little risk to either woman or child, there is always the chance that the carrier will not be able to carry the child to term.
Another risk is that the carrier will not abide by medical regulations and rules, potentially putting the child at risk. As the law does not recognize the fetus as anyone but the carrier’s child, the carrier is essentially free to act as she wishes during pregnancy. Smoking, drinking and poor eating habits, therefore, are unpreventable or unstoppable by either the donor parents or the program.