Responsible Surrogacy

Information regarding the ethical aspects of the process

For the pregnancy to go well, the surrogate should obey certain restrictions. For example, she should refrain from smoking and alcohol during the course of the pregnancy and keep an appropriate diet. Additionally, she must abstain from sexual intercourse near the date of the embryo transfer in order to avoid the possibility of a natural pregnancy. In the United States, some contracts limit the surrogate’s option to visit states in which the legal limitation on surrogacy are problematic if these visits are conducted late during the pregnancy. This is done in order to avoid the possibility that she will give birth in a state that will complicate the subsequent legal procedure.


Like in various other issues, there is a wide spectrum ranging from the most basic medical requirements to more specific requests that are not necessary for a healthy pregnancy. Consequently, there is a range of legitimate decisions regarding the restrictions imposed on the surrogate, as long as these are understood and agreed upon by the surrogate, contribute to a healthy pregnancy and take into account her autonomy and basic liberties. In Israel, for example, some couples have asked that the surrogate refrain from eating non-Kosher foods during the pregnancy. However, it is worth noting that some clinics might impose additional limitations, some of which might be less than reasonable (for example limiting the period of time in which the surrogate should avoid having intercourse to several months and not only near the embryo transfer). Different contracts even impose restrictions that are nearly impossible, such as forbidding the use of cosmetics and cleaning liquids. Other questionable limitations involve prohibitions on leaving the house, dating and limitations on interactions of the surrogate with her partner.


We suggest raising these issues before signing the surrogacy agreement and reaching understandings together that will be put in the final contract. Additionally, we suggest that both sides agree in advance on a single person (like a doctor or someone from the agency) that will act as a mediator in case of conflict during the process. Generally, we propose keeping two aspects in mind when approaching these issues. First, it is likely that the surrogate has an interest in the success of the pregnancy and therefore this matter should be viewed as a joint interest, not a conflict. Second, we recommend that intended parents put themselves in the surrogate’s shoes and think what limitations they would find legitimate.

 

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