Should surrogate motherhood be permitted

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Meghan Bradley
Professor Despain
WR122 UH
March 12, 1997

Should Surrogate Motherhood be Permitted?

Surrogate Motherhood is when one women carries to term
the fertilized egg of another woman. This procedure is chosen
by married couples who can not conceive a child in the “natural
way”. In some occasions the mother may be able to produce an
egg, but has no womb or some other physical problem which
prevents her from carrying a child. Whether or not the husband
can produce a large amount of sperm is not a problem. Once the
egg and sperm are combined in a petri dish fertilization is very
likely to occur. The couple will then choose a surrogate
mother and make an agreement in which she will carry the baby
and release it to the genetic parents after the birth. There are
four different kinds of surrogacy arrangements. Total
Surrogacy is when the woman bears a child that has been formed
from the gametes of another woman and man and implanted in her
body. Partial Surrogacy occurs when the birth mother
contributes the ovum and the sperm is introduced by artificial
insemination. She is a biological parent of the child. Commercial
Surrogacy means a business-like transaction where a fee is
charged for the incubation period. Lastly, there is a
Non-Commercial Surrogacy in which there is no formal contract
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or any payment to the birth mother. It is usually an arrangement
between close friends or family members.(1-10)
There is no federal policy on the issue of surrogacy, all
fifty states have been left to decide theses issues themselves
and create their own policies. The majority of the states have
not yet legislated on this subject. Those states that have taken
positions differ greatly from one another, such as California
and Virginia, who have taken opposing viewpoints California is
the state that is the most sympathetic to the genetic parents.
Under California law surrogacy agreements are enforceable
and the genetic parents are given all legal parental rights to
the child. In Virginia, all legal parental rights to the child are
given to the surrogate mother. Who is the legal mother? In the
case of Johnson v. Calvert, in Virginia, the surrogate mother
was found to be the legal mother of the child. If this case
would have taken place in California, the biological mother is
the legal mother. So it really depends on which state the act of
surrogacy is taking place to name the legal mother. Are
contracts for surrogate motherhood enforceable under
American law? Again, it depends on which state the act is taking
place. In California, surrogacy agreements are against the
surrogate mother. in Virginia, surrogacy agreements are void
and unenforceable. Thus, so far, among those states that have
legislated on the issue, many are legislating that these
agreements are void and unenforceable in order to try to deter
couples and surrogates from entering into agreements.(1-2)
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Surrogate arrangements are made usually through close
friends or relatives of the childless couple. However, the
practice of commercial surrogacy has increased greatly during
the last decade. Many major cities have surrogate agencies that
maintain lists of potential surrogate mothers and help match
these with couples wanting to have a baby. These agencies are
often run by doctors or lawyers and may be found through
listings in telephone books. Commercial surrogate agencies
typically charge a fee of $10,000 or more to make the
arrangements, which is in addition to the surrogate mother’s
expenses and fees. These agencies are not legal in all states.
Most commercial surrogacies are handled through a contract
between the prospective parents and the surrogate mother. The
contracting couple agrees to pay the surrogate mother’s
expenses during the pregnancy and delivery plus a fee for the
surrogates’s services. The fee can vary between $10,000 and
$100,000 per pregnancy. The surrogate mother also agrees to
terminate her parental rights to the infant and turn it over to
the contracting couple after birth. A vast majority of the
surrogacy arrangements proceed without difficulty,
occasionally problems arise concerning custody of the child.
Since the concept of commercial surrogacy is relatively new,
there are few laws and legal precedents concerning these
contracts. In some states these contracts are illegal and are
considered null and unenforceable by the courts. (1-5)

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Many considerations are to be made in selecting a
surrogate mother. For instance: is the potential surrogate
healthy and free from disease, is the surrogate’s genetic
material compatible with the contracting couple’s expectations,
is the surrogate candidate emotionally and psychologically
stable, does the potential surrogate live in a stable situation
which positively influence the pregnancy, and does the potential
surrogate have a family