What is surrogacy? Ethics and risks debate

A large part of the population wants or intends to have children at some point in their life. Within this group, we see that there is a majority of people who will be able to have them biologically with their partner.

However, there are plenty of other people who for some reason don’t have this option. For example, women with problems in their reproductive system that prevent them from conceiving a child, same-sex couples, or unmarried men or women who are looking to have children. Faced with these cases, there may be different alternatives, being one of them surrogate pregnancy.

    The concept of surrogacy

    Surrogacy is understood as a reproductive technique by which a woman willfully acts a child for a person or a partner other than. The person who is going to conceive the baby is the so-called pregnant woman, while those who request the pregnancy are called the intended parents.

    This technique requires a formal agreement between the two parties, whereby the first agrees to conceive the couple’s baby, to renounce motherhood and to deliver the child to the couple in question while the second accepts to be in the care of the couple. the child and, where applicable, to pay him remuneration. to the pregnant woman.

    It is generally carried out by artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization., Give the intended parents both eggs and sperm, or one of them if it is not possible to do so with both.

    Those who attend this type of pregnancy are usually heterosexual couples with fertility issues, same-sex couples (usually two men, and it is not so common for female couples to resort to this practice in order to be able to resort to other means such as childcare). ), or unmarried people who are unwilling or unable to adopt or resort to other means.

      Type of surrogate pregnancy

      Different types of surrogacy can be established according to the biological relationship between enclosure and enclosure and according to the characteristics of the agreement between pregnant parents and intended parents, according to two main dichotomies: partial subrogation-complete subrogation and altruistic subrogation-commercial subrogation

      1. Partial or linear subrogation

      The first to arise and therefore also called traditional, refers to the type of surrogate pregnancy in which the pregnant woman is also the biological mother of the offspring. Thus, it is the pregnant woman who lays the egg which will be fertilized by the sperm of the intentional father.

      2. Complete or gestational surrogacy

      In this type of surrogacy, the pregnant woman has no biological connection with the future pregnant woman. The egg and sperm are provided by the coupleEither these are theirs, or they use those of a person other than the pregnant woman. This is the most common.

      3. Altruistic surrogacy

      This is a type of surrogacy in which the pregnant woman does not receive any remuneration for conceiving the baby, this being agreed and agreed upon in advance. The exception concerns medical costs or the loss of possible economic gains when the pregnant woman could not exercise her profession.

      4. Commercial subrogation

      In this type of surrogate pregnancy, the agreement between the pregnant woman and the intended parents establishes that a certain payment must be made in exchange for the conception of the baby.

        Controversy and debate around this type of pregnancy

        Surrogacy has been and continues to be a controversial concept about which there is a wide debate. This debate focuses on the ethical aspects of this practice, its application and the risks it can present.

        One of the reasons for the discussion is the link between the right to sexual freedom and the dignity of the pregnant woman. Associations and groups against indicate that surrogacy is an attack on the sexual freedom and dignity of pregnant women, Who is forced to respect the agreement even if he changes his mind during pregnancy and is marketed, and the rights of the child conceived.

        However, those in favor think that surrogacy should be taken into account. it is a mutual agreement and accepted between pregnant and intentional parents, not violating the rights or freedoms of any of the persons involved and constituting an act carried out voluntarily and freely.

        Mercantilization of motherhood

        A second reason for controversy arises from the consideration of certain groups against the fact that motherhood is being commodified. These groups propose that pregnancy be used as a mechanism to obtain monetary reward, which may ultimately lead to subjects with high economic capacity. take advantage of the desperation of women with poor economic resources.

        In connection with what is discussed, there is the fact that the creation of networks and mafias dedicated to forced subrogation is encouraged. In contrast, proponents indicate that it is possible to regulate this process legally (being the lack of legality that facilitates networking) and indicate the possibility of achieving a non-profit agreement (i.e. say to use altruistic surrogacy).

          the alternatives

          Another reason why the existence of surrogacy is debated is due to the existence of other methods of having children, like adoption. However, it should not be forgotten that this is currently difficult to achieve. Adoption requires complex, expensive and very time-consuming procedures (in some cases it can take up to five years or more from initiation to actual adoption) which sometimes do not have sufficient resources to manage.

          In other cases, not all of the required conditions are met, although many of them may be due to bureaucratic issues unrelated to the applicants’ parental capacity. Finally, there are also people who want to have children with whom they are related by an inbreeding relationship (that is, they seek to be their children biologically).

          How does this affect children?

          The subject of debate is also how knowledge of this fact can affect the child conceived by this means. Research shows that there are no notable changes and everything in case of partial subrogation (Except perhaps out of curiosity for its biological progenitor, similar to what happens in adoptees).

          Several studies indicate that most parents who use this medium report their children toom was conceived at an early age, before the age of seven. No difficulty was reflected in the miners themselves. Only in cases where this data is hidden and discovered in adolescence, that it is experienced or passed on as something embarrassing or negative can generate negative responses towards parents.

          Finally, the possible relationship between the pregnant woman and the pregnant woman and the consequences it may have on the mother is also taken into account. In this aspect, the majority of women who agree to become pregnant, as long as they receive adequate counseling and support and perform the act convinced of this, they usually do not pose a problem in this regard. On the contrary, in some where it is carried out due to great economic insecurity or under duress, adverse effects such as depression or the feeling of being used up can be observed.

          Legal situation in different countries

          Surrogacy has a different legal consideration depending on the country or region, being legal in some countries and illegal in others. And even in cases where it is legal, they may find differences and limitations that only allow a certain type of population to have access to surrogacy or that it is only practiced if it is given in an altruistic way.

          Legal situation in Spain

          At present, surrogacy it is not legal in Spain. From a legal point of view, it is considered that the legal mother of the child would be the woman who gave birth to it and any contract in which the right to maternity in favor of a third party is waived is considered null and void.

          Most of the people who wish to resort to this type of pregnancy in our country have to go to other countries where it is allowed, and yet they may encounter difficulties regarding the maternity or paternity of the child in question. is recognized in this country. This recognition must be done judicially. Otherwise, the pregnant woman will be considered the legal mother of the baby, although the father is the donor of the sperm.

          So that the child is recognized as the child of parents having recourse to surrogacy the pregnant woman will have to give up motherhood and leave as the legal father only the sperm donor father, so that the latter’s couple can adopt him later. The exception to this occurs in countries such as the United States, Canada or Greece, where membership is admitted once accepted in the courts of those countries.

          However, there is a lot of debate at the social level on the state of this issue and several bills have been drafted to legalize and regulate this practice.

          Current situation in Portugal

          Portugal recently decided to draft a law allowing surrogacy, but only in the case of couples in which the woman cannot conceive naturally. However, this law excludes single people and same-sex couples (whether two men or two women). It is also established that the pregnant woman he cannot receive financial compensation, And that once the child is born, he will not be able to have more contact with him than necessary (with the possible exception of substitution pregnancies within the same family).

          Current situation in the United States and Canada

          In these two countries, surrogacy is legal and can apply to any type of family regardless of their sexual orientation or whether or not they have a partner. In the United States, it is permitted both altruistically and commercially, while in Canada, only altruistic subrogation is permitted.

          Current situation in the UK

          In the UK, surrogacy is legislated and allowed as long as it is altruistic and the mother waives her right to motherhood. At least one of the parents must have a genetic link with the child, and only people in a couple (heterosexual or homosexual couples) have access to it.

          Current situation in Russia

          In Russia, surrogacy is legal, whether altruistic or commercial, and for heterosexual couples and singles, although not for same-sex couples.

          Current situation in India

          In India, this assisted reproduction technique it is allowed both altruistic and commercial. However, it is not allowed to citizens of countries where it is not allowed, to singles from other countries and to homosexuals.

          Legal situation in Argentina

          In Argentina, there is no legislation regulating surrogacy, so in this country it is currently illegal. This implies that while it is not allowed, it is also not prohibited.

          Still the boy he would legally be the son of the pregnant woman and the sperm donor (Whether or not he is the intended father), with which it would be possible for the pregnant mother to adopt the child as her legal father’s partner. There are bills to regulate this practice which would include that it could only be done altruistically, for all kinds of family structures and requiring judicial approval.

          Current situation in Brazil

          As in Argentina, there is no clear law governing this practice. However, it is allowed as long as it occurs altruistically and the pregnant woman is a family (up to the fourth degree) of intended parents. In principle, it would be open to all types of family structures (whether or not there is a partner or sexual orientation).

          Bibliographical references:

          • Golombok, S .; Blake, L .; Casey, P .; Roman, G. and Jadva, VJ (2013). Children born by reproductive donation: a longitudinal study of psychological adaptation. J Psychological psychiatry of children; 54 (6): 653-60
          • Rodrigo, A. (2017). What is surrogacy? Babygest [En línea]. Available at: https://www.babygest.es/gestacion-subrogada/
          • Smerdon, UR (2008). Crossing bodies, crossing borders: international surrogacy between the United States and India. Cumberland Law Review, 29 (1).

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