Altruistic Surrogacy v. Commercial Surrogacy

Altruistic Surrogacy v. Commercial Surrogacy


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Despite being a controversial topic for decades, surrogacy has undoubtedly helped thousands of parents to have the children they want. The procedure means asking someone else—sometimes a complete stranger—to go through the risky stages of pregnancy and delivery. These women are usually financially compensated and the sum is often quite big. This is something that adds ethical and legal complications to the technology, especially when it comes to money.

Most surrogacy takes the form of commercial surrogacy, in which the woman who carries and delivers the baby (called a surrogate or a gestational carrier based on the surrogacy type chosen) receives compensation outside the pregnancy-related costs from the intended parents. It may cover life insurance, living expenses (such as food and clothes), and lost time or energy. The amount may vary from one contract to another, but the sum in most cases is equivalent to ten months or moreof salary.

In altruistic surrogacy, the surrogate or the carrier does not receive those extra costs. She does not pay for the IVF procedure or follow-up ultrasound sessions as they are handled by the surrogacy agency and the intended parents, but she does not enjoy any monetary benefit from surrogacy. An altruistic surrogate is usually a family member, relative, or friend of the intended parents and is happy to help without compensation.

Every region has their own laws about surrogacy. California, Arkansas, and Washington D.C. are examples of surrogacy-friendly states, whereas Michigan and New York prohibit compensated surrogacy. India disallows commercial surrogacy, Thailand bans foreign parents to look for surrogate mothers in their country, and the UK only allows compensation for out-of-pocket expenses (which indirectly disallows commercial surrogacy). However, there may be exceptions as there are many variations in how the payment is communicated and categorized.

Commercial surrogacy is often criticized as some people consider it immoral. The intended parents usually have a higher financial position and may compensate the surrogate several times higher than their regular income. These facts further complicate the situation, earning the women nicknames like "womb farm" or "baby factory,” which implies that they regard the babies as a way to make money.

On the other hand, experienced surrogates and carriers disagree with the critics, explaining how fulfilled they feel when doing such a selfless act to help others achieve happiness. Whether altruistic or commercial, most women who act as a surrogate are doing so to truly help another couple experience the joys of parenthood. Even if there is financial compensation involved, many carriers look forward to the added benefit of being the key factor in the process that creates a family. However, keep in mind that in the case of altruistic surrogates, the intended parents sometimes feel that they are not in a position to make requests of the surrogate because they are not paying her. This may lead to feeling they have a lack of control over their baby’s pregnancy. In any situation like this, communication is vital.

At the end of the day, the decision to go with commercial or altruistic surrogacy is at the hands of the involved parties. The goal should be a balance of all interests considered without going against the local laws: happy parents, a healthy baby, and a satisfied surrogate. 

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