Surrogate motherhood

This is another innovation and it also has psychological complications. It has two meanings.

• A woman contracts with a couple to be inseminated (artificially or naturally) with the husband's semen, and to surrender the child to the genetic father and adoptive mother. The surrogate provides both oocyte and womb, and is a substitute spouse.

• The wife is the genetic mother, donating a fertilized oocyte to the surrogate gestational mother. This method, involving in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer, is the only method of enabling a wife, without a uterus, to have a child that is genetically her own. The first pregnancy by this method was reported in 1989.

Surrogate pregnancy has stirred up an intense ethical debate. Apart from religious objections, there is concern about the physical and psychological consequences for the gestational mother, who endures the discomforts and complications of pregnancy, and who may bond to the child during gestation. Even if she is a friend or a relative, she may be under psychological coercion. There are endless opportunities for custody disputes and other legal complications.

A considerable number of women apply to become surrogate mothers. There seem to be four main motives: financial gain, altruism, pleasure in being pregnant, and atonement.(1)

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