Ethics Create Solid Base for Successful Surrogacy

Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Mom and Child laying on grass
The Benefits of Ethical Surrogacy
Infertility affects millions of couples around the world, and it certainly isn't a new phenomenon. Since the beginning of human existence, conception difficulties have been recognized as a condition that requires study and solutions. In Egypt, researchers discovered documents dating back to 1900 B.C. describing treatments of gynecologic disorders relating to the female reproductive tract. Men's infertility was addressed as well, with the common belief that reproductive systems were tied to the digestive system.

Reproductive medicine has come a long way since then, not only in research areas but in treatment and the ethical issues raised during its development. In 1978, the first baby was born as a result of in-vitro fertilization (IVF), and the specialized treatment area of assisted reproductive technology, or ART, was born. More than 5 million babies have been born from IVF and reproductive technologies since 1978. During that time, there has been a great deal of legislative, ethical, and media focus on reproductive medicine.

Family Taking Selfie

Standards for Reproductive Medicine

Many years before the first IVF baby was born, an organization was created that supported reproductive technologies, and later helped shape public policy and legislation regarding infertility and its treatments, along with surrogacy issues. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) was established in 1944. Its founding members were the first to apply the infertility procedures used in 1978 by Edwards and Steptoe to bring Baby Louise Brown into the world, and that are still used by today's fertility specialists across the globe. Members of the nonprofit, multidisciplinary ASRM organization are held to high ethical principles. The group's membership includes not only obstetricians and gynecologists, but urologists, embryologists, mental health professionals, research scientists, and a variety of other professionals as well.

Importance of Ethical Standards in Surrogacy

Surrogacy is not only a complex medical issue—it is also filled with unique legal requirements and precedents as well. A surrogacy contract is created to protect the rights of the intended parents, the surrogate mother, and the child. At CSP, our goal is to ensure all of those legal requirements are met, and that the details of the surrogacy arrangement meets our high ethical standards. The ethical standards created by the ASRM for its members provide an excellent framework that we use as a guide throughout the surrogacy process.

Father and son in park

Surrogacy Ethics and Legal Factors

The role of the surrogacy agency is to help manage the process, carry out background checks, ensure all medical and psychological testing is completed, provide matching services between surrogate and the intended parents, and assist and set up the financial compensation and trust process. The agency also safeguards the confidentiality of all parties involved, confirms that parental rights are legally established and clearly defined according to law, and ensures the surrogacy maintains all ethical standards.

Here are some of the ethical guidelines set forth by ASRM and followed by CSP:

The surrogate has the right to:
  • Be fully informed of all risks associated with the surrogacy process and pregnancy
  • Reasonable economic compensation
  • Receive psychological evaluation and counseling
  • Independent legal counsel experienced in surrogacy and reproductive law

The intended parents have the right to:
  • Be considered the legal and psychosocial parents of the child
  • The right to be notified by medical professional of any complications or issues with the surrogate mother at any point during the surrogacy process
  • Full disclosure of the surrogate mother's medical information
  • Legal documentation signed by the surrogate that she has fully disclosed all information
  • Representation of an attorney experienced in third-party reproduction who is licensed to practice in their home country as well as the relevant state or states

  • Intended Father and Intended Mother

    Other Ethical and Legal Concerns

    Each surrogacy is unique, with the possibility of issues arising that have not been addressed. However, throughout our 37 years of experience providing the highest attention to detail while matching surrogate mothers with intended parents, unresolvable issues are rare. Surrogacy is not a business arrangement. The surrogate and the parents meet and interact during the pregnancy as well as afterward. It is a fulfilling and emotional process from the first meeting until the time the surrogate places the child into the loving arms of the intended parents after the birth.

    To make the surrogacy as enjoyable and smooth as possible, there are CSP policies and ethical decisions that must be clearly understood and adhered to by all parties. Due to the uniqueness of each surrogacy situation, there could be additional considerations as well. This list highlights some of the considerations that will be discussed during counseling and legal sessions:
    • Confidentiality and respect for privacy of the intended parents, surrogate mother and the child is maintained.
    • A separate legal process exists for finalizing parental rights for same sex intended parents.
    • No more than two embryos are implanted into the uterus of the surrogate. Single embryo transfers are recommended in most cases.
    • A financial trust account is set up for the surrogate mother before the pregnancy occurs to ensure her compensation is protected and available as needed.
    • A clear understanding and documented plan is created, involving the surrogate and the intended parents should a pregnancy not occur, or if the child does not survive.
    • If intended parents have specific requests, such as asking that the surrogate mother eat only organic foods, then additional compensation to cover the additional cost should be provided to honor the request should the surrogate mother agree.

    Professionalism is key to a successful partnership with the surrogacy agency you choose. Your questions and concerns should always be addressed, and you should feel comfortable and secure with the decisions and legality of the agreement you sign. Our experienced legal staff, medical professionals, case managers, and counselors have worked with and supported thousands of successful surrogacies.