By Peter R. Brinsden | Human Reproduction Update (Vol. 9, No.5, 2003, pp. 483 – 491)
From the study’s abstract:
Gestational surrogacy is a treatment option available to women with certain clearly defined medical problems, usually an absent uterus, to help them have their own genetic children. IVF allows the creation of embryos from the gametes of the commissioning couple and subsequent transfer of these embryos to the uterus of a surrogate host. The indications for treatment include absent uterus, recurrent miscarriage, repeated failure of IVF and certain medical conditions. Treatment by gestational surrogacy is straightforward and follows routine IVF procedures for the commissioning mother, with the transfer of fresh or frozen–thawed embryos to the surrogate host. The results of treatment are good, as would be expected from the transfer of embryos derived from young women and transferred to fit, fertile women who are also young. Clinical pregnancy rates achieved in large series are up to 40% per transfer and series have reported 60% of hosts achieving live births. The majority of ethical or legal problems that have arisen out of surrogacy have been from natural or partial surrogacy arrangements. The experience of gestational surrogacy has been largely complication‐free and early results of the follow‐up of children, commissioning couples and surrogates are reassuring. In conclusion, gestational surrogacy arrangements are carried out in a few European countries and in the USA. The results of treatment are satisfactory and the incidence of major ethical or legal complications has been limited. IVF surrogacy is therefore a successful treatment for a small group of women who would otherwise not be able to have their own genetic children.
The case of an Australian couple accused of abandoning their child with his Thai surrogate mother after discovering he had Down syndrome — and taking home his healthy twin — has turned global attention to the murky underworld of international surrogacy.
Such cases have raised ethical and legal dilemmas, which experts say are the inevitable consequences of an unregulated multibillion-dollar industry dependent on impoverished women in developing countries providing a “product” — a child — so desperately wanted by would-be parents in wealthier nations.
In Baby Gammy’s case, which made international headlines this month, the boy’s Australian parents are claiming that the Thai surrogate mother, Pattaramon Chanbua, refused to release the child into their custody and that they lacked the legal right to force her to do so.
This article provides a global overview of laws related to international commercial surrogacy, with a focus on Thailand. It delves into issues specific to the rights of children – such as citizenship and legal parentage – and links to the work being done by the Hague Conference on Private International Law, an intergovernmental organization, on the legal challenges posed by the practice.
Read a report, Global Surrogacy Practices, published by Marcy Darnovsky and Diane Beeson, summarizing discussions on global surrogacy at the International Forum on Intercountry Adoption and Global Surrogacy, The Hague, August 2014.
Five days after her caesarean section, Nancy boarded a night bus in the southern Mexican city of Villahermosa and made the 10-hour journey back to her home in the capital. Instead of a baby, she nursed a wad of bills buried in a blue handbag she never let out of her sight.
The cash was the final instalment of her 150,000-peso (£7,000) fee to be a surrogate mother for a gay couple from San Francisco. After a traumatic year that included being all but abandoned by the agency supposedly looking after her, and being falsely accused of demanding additional cash to hand over the baby, Nancy was not so sure it had been worth it. “I just wanted to get my money, go home, rest and forget about it all,” said the 24-year-old, sitting in her tiny apartment in a poor barrio of Mexico City. “And now the money is all gone.”
Nancy’s story says much about the southern Mexican state of Tabasco’s emergence as the world’s most dynamic new centre of international surrogacy, fuelled by the tightening of restrictions in other countries such as India and Thailand.
This article follows gestational mothers and intended parents in Mexico, providing important insights into their lives, the contexts that frame their decisions, and their experiences within surrogacy arrangements and after. In light of closer scrutiny and tighter regulation, it also reveals the chameleon-like nature of the clinics and agencies in between. Mexico Surrogacy, one featured agency, for example, is reportedly set up like a charity that receives “donations” from intended parents which is then passed on to gestational mothers in the form of “aid.”
In a timeline stretching from the year 1322 up through the late 1980s, Wendy Kramer, co-founder and director of the Donor Sibling Registry, highlights the development and use of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) around the world.
The Donor Sibling Registry (DSR) was founded in 2000 to assist individuals conceived as a result of sperm, egg or embryo donation that are seeking to make mutually desired contact with others with whom they share genetic ties. DSR advocates for the right to honesty and transparency for donor children, and for social acceptance, legal rights and valuing the diversity of all families. For more information, visit the website.
The Incidence of Both Serious and Minor Complications in Young Women Undergoing Oocyte Donation
By Kara N. Maxwell, M.D., Ph.D., Ina N. Cholst, M.D., and Zev Rosenwaks, M.D. | Fertility and Sterility (Vol. 90, No. 6, December 2008, pp. 2165 – 2171)
This study provides information on the incidence of serious complications experienced by oocyte donors after controlled ovarian hyperstimulation and oocyte retrieval. It provides evidence that with careful monitoring, and when a liberal cancellation policy is followed, oocyte donors experience lower rates of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, compared with infertile women undergoing IVF. Furthermore, the study provides the first set of data on the rate of symptomatic minor complications experienced by oocyte donors. This information will help clinicians administer appropriate informed consent to the young women who present themselves as potential oocyte donors.
Foreword by Judy Norsigian, co-founder and former executive director, Our Bodies Ourselves, and Michele Goodwin, director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy
From the book description:
Cracked Open is Miriam Zoll’s eye-opening account of growing into womanhood with the simultaneous opportunities offered by the women’s movement and new discoveries in reproductive technologies. Influenced by pervasive media and cultural messages suggesting that science had finally eclipsed Mother Nature, Zoll –– like millions of women –– delays motherhood until the age of 40.
When things don’t progress as she had hoped, she and her husband enter a science-fiction world of medical seduction, capitalist conception and bioethical quagmires. Desperate to conceive, they turn to unproven treatments and procedures only to learn that the odds of becoming parents through reproductive medicine are far less than they and their generation had been led to believe.