There are those hushed, polite conversations when people wondered why Tag Romney and his wife, who already had three children naturally, chose to have three more children via gestational surrogacy. The celebrity surrogate pregnancy stories always raise more eyebrows. Why did Sarah Jessica Parker, already a proven birth mother, use another woman’s body to have another child? Do the wealthy and affluent just out-source their pregnancies to other women, just because pregnancy is too much of a bother?
But now, in print, we see news on the rise in what is being called “social” surrogacy. Social surrogacy is defined as the use of a surrogate mother to carry your pregnancy to term for social reasons vs. medical reasons. There is no medical reason the intended mother can’t get pregnant and carry her child to term; she just doesn’t want to get pregnant for a variety of reasons.
In this article, we learn about women whose careers are taking off and they find that taking time out of the work force for pregnancy and childbirth would be a career breaker. One doctor at a fertility center in Los Angeles is happy to offer social surrogacy and says he’s been involved with about 20 such cases. He states, “They’re for reasons most people would find offensive” and “I don’t ask these people too many questions because I don’t want them to feel judged.”
While the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) frowns upon social surrogacy arrangements, stating there must be a medical need that poses a risk of harm to the mother or the child, many worry that the risk of harm to the mother or child language can be interpreted rather broadly. Could a case be made that there is a risk of harm in loss of earnings? Or career advancements and opportunities could be lost? And the ASRM’s position is just a suggested guideline.
So, assisted reproductive technologies, which started out as a way to help infertile couples have children, has now “progressed” to just a service provider industry, providing babies made to order when and how we want them.
- Jennifer Lahl, MA, BSN, RN, is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.