Responsible Surrogacy

Information regarding the ethical aspects of the process

This site was built and designed by a team which includes parents to children conceived through surrogacy, based on different information, including personal experiences. The text refers to “intended parents” throughout, but is relevant to couples and singles of all genders and orientations who are considering surrogacy.
'Escape' by Eric Sweet.

Escape by Eric Sweet.

Responsible Surrogacy” is a project aiming to supply couples and singles who wish to become parents through surrogacy access and exposure to the ethical considerations of surrogacy. Today, there is a large ideological gap between people who view surrogacy as a legitimate option for parenthood and others who view it as exploitation of the female body that should be prohibited. Instead of choosing a side in this debate, we wish to try and bridge between the feminist discourse and the practice of surrogacy. One of the implications of this division to two opposing and combatant camps is that practical questions regarding ethical and moral considerations of the process are often left undealt with and matters that could potentially influence the health and welfare of the surrogate and egg-donor (when one is needed) are neglected. We believe that the ethical responsibility for the surrogacy process lies with the intended parents. Different processes in different countries around the world, as well as different surrogacy agencies, vary significantly, with regard to ethical considerations and others. We feel that a view that considers all surrogacy processes as equivalent ethically could miss out on the vast differences between then – and might prevent intended parents from thoroughly considering the way in which they wish for their process to take place and the resulting consequences for all involved.

When we claim that intended parents have full responsibility for the surrogacy process – we are addressing these very aspects. The limited legislation around the world in regard to surrogacy might allow for precarious legal contracts with the surrogate and donor, who are not always properly represented. We feel that it is the intended parents’ responsibility to insure a fair contract and adequate conditions for these women. Without diminishing the agency and involvement of the surrogate and donor themselves, we still claim that the parents should take responsibility, due to the fact that the medical, social and mental consequences for the process will affect mostly the women involved. At the very least, we believe that every intended parent should get acquainted with the aspects influencing the level of exploitation, even if they eventually choose not to take this into consideration in their surrogacy process.

'Adapted from an image by Faizan Dawood,

Adapted from an image by Faizan Dawood,

Surrogacy is a difficult process for all involved in many aspects, and it is often initiated after much hardship for the intended parents. For those in need of it, surrogacy is commonly the last hope to raise a family. They reach it exhausted but with a sense of purpose. Perhaps that is why in many cases we have encountered upon building this information center there was a tendency of intended parents to neglect one of the most important points – on the other side of this process is a person. Many surrogacy arrangement are constructed so as to minimize the exposure to that person for various reasons, but we believe that responsibility begins with acknowledging that there is a woman (or in some case, women) on the other side of the surrogacy contract. Just as the parents’ culture, values, wishes and needs influence the process, they should make room for the culture, values, wishes and needs of the surrogate and egg donor. Even in the hardest and most critical moments, it is worthwhile remembering that these women play an active part of this process and their voice should be heard and considered in every step. Therefore, we recommend that intended parents do their best to get acquainted with the needs of the surrogate very early in the process in order to make sure she is entering it on her own agenda and deeply understands its possible implications. They should respect her autonomy over her own body, even if the embryo growing inside her is not her child. These aspects should be taken into account in cases where more than a single surrogate is involved in the process as well – and when considering the role of the egg donor if one is needed.

The database we have built includes aspects that should be considered irrespective of the country in which the surrogacy takes place. However, we advise intended parents to search for updated reading material (such as academic articles) regarding surrogacy in the country/state they are considering in order to get a clearer picture of the way surrogacy is being conducted.

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