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The Ethics of Surrogacy in the USA

With the new laws in Alabama regarding embryos, and Pope Francis’s comments regarding surrogacy, ethical issues about surrogacy are front of mind for many intended parents and potential surrogates.

Is Surrogacy Ethical?

In the U.S., surrogacy is legal and monitored. There are protections for both the intended parent(s) and the surrogate, and a set of ethical standards for egg donation and surrogacy is defined by a nonprofit organization (called SEEDS) for all parties involved in third-party reproduction.

The Ethical Issues Surrounding Surrogacy

Gestational Surrogacy is a method of assisted reproduction where a woman carries a child for intended parents (IPs). The surrogate goes through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and then carries the baby to term.  In this case, there is no genetic relation between the embryo and the surrogate.

Autonomy and Choice

One of the foundational ethical principles supporting surrogacy is autonomy. Surrogacy allows individuals and couples who are unable to conceive a child to fulfill their desire to become parents. Through surrogacy and IVF,  IPs have reproductive choices, empowering them to pursue their desired path to parenthood. Surrogates, too, exercise their autonomy by choosing to help others create families. Surrogates have full autonomy to make decisions about their bodies and their care.  Also, with the support of an agency, both the IPs and the surrogates have someone there to help them navigate and encourage their choices and decisions. 

Informed Consent

If the surrogate and intended parents are using an agency, the agency will require informed consent from all parties involved. Intended parents and surrogates must fully understand the terms of the agreement, including the medical procedures involved, the risks and benefits, and the legal implications. Informed consent ensures that all parties enter into the surrogacy arrangement willingly and with a clear understanding of the process, fostering ethical practice and transparency. The surrogate will go through a multi-step process, ensuring they are informed of every step along the way. 

Medical and Psychological Screening

Surrogacy agencies and fertility clinics in the USA like ours that adhere to SEEDS guidelines require medical and psychological screening of surrogates. These screenings ensure that surrogates are physically and emotionally prepared for the surrogacy process. Intended parents also undergo screenings to ensure their readiness for parenthood. Both the surrogate and the IPs may be offered additional mental health support throughout the process and after. By prioritizing the well-being of all parties involved, surrogacy in the US upholds ethical standards and promotes the best interests of everyone involved.

Legal Protections

Surrogacy laws in the U.S. vary by state, but most states have statutes that protect the rights of intended parents, surrogates, and children born through surrogacy. These laws establish legal parentage, outline financial agreements, and address issues such as custody and compensation. Legal protections ensure that surrogacy arrangements are conducted ethically and with consideration for the rights and responsibilities of all parties. Each party has their own attorney, certified as an American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) attorney, to support them through this process. 

Financial Compensation

Critics of surrogacy often raise concerns about the commercialization of reproduction. However, in the USA, surrogacy is not purely a financial transaction. While surrogates receive compensation for their time, effort, and the physical demands of pregnancy, the decision to become a surrogate is motivated by a desire to help others rather than financial gain. Surrogates often form meaningful relationships with intended parents as well as other surrogates and the staff of their agency. It really is a group effort and the surrogate is supported in many ways. 

Surrogacy in the US is a complex and multifaceted process that involves careful consideration of all parties. By prioritizing autonomy, informed consent, medical and psychological screening, legal protections, and altruism over financial gain, surrogacy in the U.S. upholds ethical standards and provides a pathway to parenthood for individuals and couples who may not otherwise have the opportunity. While ethical debates surrounding surrogacy will likely continue, the regulatory framework and organizations like SEEDS ensures that surrogacy is conducted ethically and with compassion for all parties involved.

At AFS, we’ve created a simple, transparent, and cost-conscious process, dedicated to fostering authentic connections between surrogates and intended parents, guiding them on the journey of a lifetime. If you are interested in becoming a surrogate, please fill out this quiz. If you are an intended parent, please fill out this application.

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In honor of Mother’s Day, let us give a standing ovation to the incredible women who chooseto become gestational carriers! These superheroes embark on a wild ride, donning their capes(or hospital gowns and paper sheets) offering up their bellies as an Airbnb for tiny humans...

If you’re thinking about becoming a surrogate, you probably have a list of questions, like how long will it take, how much is the compensation, what are the actual steps to becoming a surrogate, and what’s the difference between the compensation package and base compensation?...

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If you have questions, need more information, or would like to refer a friend for surrogacy, our team is here to assist you. Please complete the contact form on this page, and one of our dedicated team members will gladly address any inquiries or concerns you may have.

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