All You Need to Know About Surrogacy
- Published on August 26, 2022
A couple cannot always have a biological child for various reasons. The most common reason is infertility. The issue can arise from either the male or female partner. Many other reasons might make it difficult or impossible for a couple to conceive biologically.
The solution to this type of problem is a medical procedure known as surrogacy. This process involves one woman carrying another woman’s child in her womb. The woman might be compensated for her services (depending on the country where the procedure takes place), or she could do it as a labour of love.
At the baby’s birth, the surrogate mother agrees to hand over the child to the intended mother, by whom the baby is legally adopted.
Conditions for surrogacy
It is every couple’s wish to have a child naturally. But it is not always possible due to several reasons as follows:
- An absent uterus
- An abnormal uterus
- Successive in vitro fertilization (IVF) failures
- Medical conditions that advise against pregnancy
- Being single men or women
- Being same-sex couples
In any of the above cases, surrogacy can serve the purpose of providing a child to desirous couples.
Types of surrogacies
There are two types of surrogacies – traditional and gestational surrogacy. Although traditional surrogacy is not yet outdated, you will seldom see it practised today. However, for academic purposes, here are the explanations of the two types:
1. Traditional surrogacy
In traditional surrogacy, the mother uses her ovum to conceive. When the woman’s ovum is ripe, it is fertilized through artificial insemination. Once the embryo forms, the pregnancy runs its course like any normal pregnancy.
2. Gestational surrogacy
Here, fertilized embryos are transferred to the womb of the surrogate mother. The embryo is produced through IVF with the donor or intended mother.
Surrogacy and Indian law
IVF has made it possible for the process of gestational surrogacy to be carried out smoothly. However, this process brings some psychological effects and health issues.
Further, myriad legal complications that come with surrogacy are often overlooked in the enthusiasm of having a baby. In India, there are very stringent laws governing surrogacy.
According to the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act, 2021, only altruistic surrogacy is allowed in India. Altruistic surrogacy is where the surrogate mother receives no financial compensation except to cover expenses incurred during the pregnancy.
Commercial surrogacy is strictly prohibited in India and is a punishable crime. A child born through surrogacy is considered the biological child of the intended parents and will be entitled to all rights and privileges from them alone.
There can sometimes be other legal complications as well. There is no surrogacy cost paid to the mother, but she hands over the baby, whom the couple adopts to become a happy family. However, there are cases where the biological mother refuses to hand over the child, which can result in a legal battle.
Alternatively, sometimes the intended parents refuse to accept the child for various reasons, like deformities and congenital issues. Such scenarios can also end in unpleasant court cases.
Surrogacy is regarded differently in various countries and even in different states of the same country, like in the United States of America. So, if you are considering having a baby through gestational surrogacy, you would have to acquaint yourself with the legalities that are specific to a particular country.
Surrogacy and religion
Different faiths have different takes on surrogacy. Much is left to the interpretation of different religions because when they were founded, the concept of IVF did not exist. However, it is interesting to know how each religion looks at this concept.
Here are the views of some of the major religions in India on surrogacy:
A prime example of surrogacy can be seen in the Book of Genesis in the story of Sarah and Abraham. However, according to Catholics, children are a gift of God and have to come in the normal course. Any interference whatsoever in the process of reproduction, be it abortion or IVF, is considered to be immoral.
Various sects of Protestants have different levels of acceptance of the concept of surrogate pregnancy. However, most of them have a more liberal view of surrogacy.
There are varying views on surrogacy in Islam. The opinions of Islamic scholars vary from considering it adultery to acceptance on the basis that it is a part of attempts to preserve humanity.
Some believe it is acceptable for a married couple to contribute their sperm and ovum for the IVF procedure. Sunni Muslims, however, rule out any third-party assistance as a part of the reproductive process.
In Hinduism as well, there are varying views on surrogacy. The general concept is that artificial insemination can be allowed if the sperm belongs to the husband.
In India, surrogate pregnancy is widely practised, particularly by Hindus.
Buddhism accepts surrogacy based on the fact that it doesn’t see procreation as a moral duty. Therefore, couples can reproduce as they best seem fit.
Surrogacy aided by IVF is one of the wonders of modern science. The process has become highly specialised today, and the success rate is also higher than ever.
If you are a couple going in for gestational surrogacy, you will have to consider many aspects, as we have mentioned above. You would have to evaluate details like the ethical, religious, and legal aspects and, most importantly, the surrogacy cost in countries where commercial surrogacy is legal.
Consider all the aspects, and do your due research before you jointly decide to proceed. Go into it with your eyes open, and you can build your family into a happy and healthy one.
For advice and assistance on IVF procedures, visit your nearest Birla Fertility and IVF Centre or book an appointment with Dr. Souren Bhattacharjee.
1. How do surrogate mothers get pregnant?
Surrogacy is of two types – traditional and gestational. In the traditional method, the sperm of the intended father is used to fertilize the ovum of the surrogate mother.
In gestational surrogacy, an embryo is created outside the womb and later implanted in the womb of the surrogate mother.
Therefore, both cases involve a growing embryo in the womb of the woman who carries the child to full term. While the traditional method is less complicated, the gestational method is much more complex and results in a higher surrogacy cost.
2. Are surrogate mothers paid?
Yes, they are. However, in some societies, women might be coerced into becoming surrogate mothers and may or may not be paid.
In India, commercial surrogacy is illegal. But in many countries where commercial surrogacy is allowed, a surrogate mother receives compensation for her services.
3. Does a surrogate baby have the mother’s DNA?
To answer this question, you need to consider the two types of surrogacy – traditional and gestational. In the traditional method, surrogate mothers have their ova fertilised through IVF, thereby transferring their DNA to their babies.
By the nature of gestational surrogacy, the child will not receive any DNA from its surrogate mother, as the sperm and ovum come from the intended parents.
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Dr Souren Bhattacharjee
Consultant, Birla Fertility & IVF
Dr Souren Bhattacharjee possesses 32+ years of experience as an IVF Specialist. He has extensive experience in the management of male and female infertility, including IVF and Ultrasound. Along with this, Dr Souren has encountered more than 6000 IVF cycles with a very high success rate. Dr Bhattacharjee is a graduate of Gauhati University, 1983. He earned a diploma in gynaecology and obstetrics in 1991 from Dr MGR Medical University. In 1994, he did his Member Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists from London and in 2009, he did his Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists from London.
Over 32 Years of Experience
Kolkata, West Bengal
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