May 23, 2024

Towards ethical standards in surrogacy

An American agency for gay dads sets out its standards

Surrogate mother and clients of Men Having Babies   

Surrogacy agencies are often accused of being unethical, but some do try set down ethical standards for their work. The American company Men Having Babies has posted a long statement of its ethical standards and aspirations on its website. Here are some of the principles:

  • Surrogacy should be legal everywhere for infertile couples
  • Contracts should be legally enforceable
  • It should be possible to “seamlessly terminate any parental rights and obligations of donors and surrogates”
  • Prospective parents should agree to criminal background checks
  • Compensation should be reasonable. It should not be tied to outcomes.
  • Surrogates should give informed consent and should have legal representation.
  • “agencies need to ensure that at the very least, the surrogate has the right to see and hold the child she carried after the deliver”

Men Having Babies runs seminars in the United States, Belgium and Israel. A Belgian blogger attended a recent gathering in Brussels. She was skeptical of the ethical framework:

They claimed to be a non-profit organization aiming to provide tools and means for gay men to pursue their right to have a biological family. The fact that their biggest sponsors happened to be those fertility centers and law firms that pitched to the 220 attendees wasn’t considered as a conflict of interest to them …

Strongly advising to use the eggs from another woman than the surrogate, the birth mother is most likely to give up the baby. But also the enforceability of the 50-page contract offers the insurance that you can take the child with you after it is born. The contract even allows payments to be ceased if the surrogate does not comply with the terms of the contract. I also must mention that many contracts have a non-disclosure clause: it prohibits women to speak publicly about any malpractice they endured.

A lot of time and attention went to the reassurance of conceiving an as healthy child as possible. Gender selection is included in this ‘service’. My consternation was huge when a fertility doctor asked the audience who would chose to abort a child with a defect. Most of the hands went in the air. For the record: abortion can also be enforced by contract.
Creative commons
gay parenting
surrogate motherhood