Is a Surrogate a Mother?
By Michelle Goldberg | Slate | Feb. 15, 2016
“Surrogacy’s been distinguished as something completely different from adoption,” says Lisa Ikemoto, a UC Davis School of Law professor who specializes in reproductive rights and bioethics. Unlike in adoption, there’s no legally required screening of intended parents. A pregnant woman who offers to give her baby up for adoption can reconsider her decision; in California, a pregnant surrogate cannot. To a large extent, the law “puts a lot of trust in a surrogacy center to make sure that these things are carried out appropriately,” Ikemoto says. “It’s very industry-friendly, and by ‘industry,’ I’m referring to the fertility industry.”
This article provides an overview of the Melissa Cook case — the story of a 47-year old woman in California who agreed to become a gestational mother and the “battle” that followed, between her and the intended parent, once she became pregnant with triplets.
Though based in the United States, a number of issues that emerged in the case have also been documented in international commercial surrogacy arrangements. This includes legal concerns related to contracts and their enforcement, practices that can impact the health of gestational mothers (such as reductions), and implications on the children that are born.
For those interested, the article also provides a lot of useful information on the 1986 Baby M case — the first contested surrogacy case in American history. Read the full article >