What are the problems ?
Surrogate motherhood has brought about various problems since its introduction. These problems can be related to the surrogate mother, child or the infertile couple.
1.1 Problems to surrogate mother
1.1.1 Separation from the child
Most surrogate motherhood contracts, the contracted woman is expected to give up the child that she has borne over approximately nine months to another couple. She is not allowed to foster a relationship with the child after birth, so that the child will only recognize the parents who raised them and not the surrogate mother. The problem is that surrogate mother naturally bonds to her child during pregnancy, and giving up their child often hard to do. If a surrogate mother does fight back for their child, that means she broke the contract (Vadeboncoeur 1995).
Most of the surrogate mothers find that it is difficult for them to separate from the baby and hand in the baby to the intended mother. This is due to the fact that the surrogate mother gives greater warmth during pregnancy and they are emotionally contacted and attached to the baby. Surrogates can change their emotional feeling after giving birth. Some of them even feel traumatized after the relinquishment of the baby. For example, it has been suggested that relinquishing the child may be extremely distressing and may result in psychological problems. There is also fear about the surrogate mother forming a bond with the baby that would changed her mind about handing over the child to the commissioning parents. On the other hand, it has been proposed that surrogate mothers may tend to distance themselves from the unborn baby with the belief that the child is not theirs. Such behavior might endanger the surrogate mother and the unborn child. For those women who give up on the child, the risk of post-natal depression, in addition to feelings of anger or guilt, may further damage the woman’s psychological health (Jadva et.al 2003).
The surrogate mother would be expected to deliver the child to the parents with whom she made the arrangement once the child is born. This is one of the problems because many surrogate mothers have refused to hand over children they had agreed to carry for the respective parents. In these cases, the surrogate mothers have developed a link with the child they were carrying. There are arguments stating that, some woman says that they have the right to own the child that they are carrying. If the child is surrendered as agreed by the surrogate mother, there is a high possibility of emotional suffering (Law Reform Commission 1988).
1.1.2 Problems to the surrogate mother’s family
Many surrogates already have children. The health and stability of her children, especially if raised by her, are used as guidelines. The ethical problem deals with these other children of the surrogate. They see that their mother is going to have another brother or sister for them. Then they see their mother go to the hospital, and return without their other sibling (Jadva et.al. 2003). The surrogate must see past the initial financial gain, and see what stress she may be placing on her own family, for the sake of another
1.1.3 Labor employment issues
The relationship that the surrogate mother has with her employers has been scrutinized by several human rights organizations, who argue that it is morally unjust for an employer to have control over the body of their employee. Many contracts emphasize that surrogate mother must exercise, keep away from drugs, alcohol, and smoking, and eat a healthy balanced diet in order to further the development of a healthy baby. Many surrogate mothers do not care the healthy of their child. Unfortunately, some surrogate mothers are force to help the baby be born healthy, and non-addicted to drugs (Vadeboncoeur 1995). For example, an intended mother will control the foods and drinks that the surrogate mother will have to eat. This lead to a discussion for us: Do the intended mother has the right to control over what should the surrogate mother eat? Besides that, the intended mother will also ask the surrogate mother to attend some pre-giving-birth courses such as yoga class and music class. Other than that, they will limit the activities of the surrogate mother. A lot of conflicts may be provoked between the surrogate mother and the intended parents concerning ways of managing the pregnancy, as many couples would like to control the whole process, while the carrier might have a lot of her own thoughts how to behave during the pregnancy period. This creates a human rights issue between the couple and the surrogate mother. This will create an emotional problem for the surrogate mothers. They cannot do activities that they like and their lives are totally controlled.
1.1.4 Health risk
The surrogate mother is facing various risks to her health by getting pregnant. In other words, in any pregnancy there are risks to the woman’s life and health. The medical problems that will be faced by the surrogate mothers are namely high blood pressure, diabetes, bleeding or premature labor. They may result in the need for medical treatments such as drugs. In addition, problems during the pregnancy may require an operative delivery of the child. All these problems may affect the health and quality of life of the surrogate mother during the pregnancy (Law Reform Commission 1988).
1.1.5 Risk of exploitation
The surrogate mother is at risk of exploitation in commercial surrogacy. Commercial surrogacy is a service of providing children to other couples. The commercial surrogate mother is often paid for their services. The financial problem is often used as a reason to become a surrogate mother. Surrogacy may exploit women from a more economically disadvantaged background, such that women may enter into a surrogacy arrangement because of financial hardship without being fully aware of the potential risks (Jadva et.al 2003). The median fee paid to surrogates by the couple wanting a child is $10,000. In other words, the surrogate mother is paid approximately $1.33 per hour calculated over the duration of the pregnancy. Subsequently, the average income of a surrogate being around $25,000 per annum, the possibility of a large sum of $10,000 seems very tempting (Vadeboncoeur 1995).
If surrogacy agents become legal and mainstream, it is very likely that poorer women the one from third-world countries would be very willingly to become one. They are more likely to distance themselves from the children they give birth to, and their financial condition will ensure the surrogacy contracts will not be challenged in court. Moreover, the price paid to surrogates could be reduced, as poor women are just trying to survive and support their own families, and thus may agree to any sum of payment (Jones 2002). Bioethicists and sociologists found that the Indian surrogate mothers are badly paid. Additionally, they are working as a surrogate mother in country with a high percentage of maternal death (The Sun Herald 2008). This is due to the reason that the medical facilities for surrogacy provided are not easy to get access. Moreover, many of them are also holding the traditional principles and superstitions which is a barrier for them to have medical check-up. Critics say the couples are exploiting poor women in India - a country with an alarmingly high maternal death rate - by hiring them at a low cost to undergo the hardship, pain and risks of labor.
1.1.6 Risk to blame
If the baby is born with physical disabilities, how should the couple and the clinic deal with this problem? As we know, internal factors such as surrogate mother’s habit and external factors like environment factors will determine the health of the baby. There are the possibilities that some of the couple might refuse to take care of the problem baby and they will blame the clinic or the surrogate mother herself. Besides that, if the surrogate mother is unable to give birth successfully, we might not have idea on how are they going to tackle the problem. This controversial issue will lead to an unhappy situation that requires solving this problem in the court that wastes of money and time.
1.2 Problems to infertile couple and child
1.2.1 Risk to couple
There are several risks to be considered here. The contracting couples have the risks of being ridiculed, or unsupported, by their family, who do not feel the pain that the couples are going through by not being able to have the children that they want to have together, and even add to the pain. The couple also spent a lot of money and time in order to go through the procedures involved with acquiring a surrogate mother and proceeding through the use of a clinic. The couple must also be able to produce the sperm or eggs, if the case may be. For example, in the case of egg harvesting, the women are putting many health risks, such as that of abdominal infection. As a serious result, it may cause death to the women. If the embryo is implanted outside the mother body, instead of artificial inject semen into female reproductive system, the child is put at a higher risk of incomplete birth (Vadeboncoeur 1995).
The couple must risk the emotional or financial pressures if the surrogate mother refuses to hand over the child or delay the delivery date. They also face a high possibility that the arrangement is not carried out, and the child is not received by them when the child is born (Law Reform Commission 1988).
1.2.2 Risk in child emotional development
Once the child is born, the nurturing parents face some problems like how to tell this child about how it was born. Even for parents of the normal method of conceiving, bearing, and nurturing a child, the issue of parental sex and the birth of a child are difficult and embarrass to say. Maybe the most difficult to explain to a child is the fact that his nurturing parents paid for the ability to raise him or her. Another problem to think about is the case of the parents who are unable to conceive because of their age, and so go about gaining a child through surrogacy. It is difficult for some children to accept the fact of being surrogate children. The child then must spend much of their life dealing with his parent's increasing age, mentality, and medical needs (Vadeboncoeur 1995). As the child grows up, anxiety about the identity of the surrogate mother might be experienced by the child. The members of the Chalmers Committee in Tasmania called attention to the risk of serious harm to the child who later finds out that he or she was born as a result of a surrogate motherhood arrangement (Law Reform Commission 1988).
1.2.3 Marriage Problem
Surrogacy will also lead a problem to a marriage. Introducing a third party into the couple's reproductive process may ultimately undermine the couple's relationship altogether (Dorff 1998). The infertile woman will be put under tremendous stress with the decision of having a baby through the means of surrogacy. First, there is a need for her to have a child, which may be a product of social conditioning. Next, there is the pressure placed on her by her husband’s need to be the biological father of the child. In combination these pressures might caused arguments between the couple, which may potentially lead to a break down of their marriage.