In a saga that started in 2014, one of the richest men in Japan has just been granted custody of children he commissioned from Thai gestational mothers. In its ruling, the central juvenile court “found the father had no history of bad behaviour and would provide for the children’s happiness.”
This case first came to light in the regulatory upheaval following the case of Baby Gammy in Thailand, and resulted in the country’s eventual ban on international commercial surrogacy. It continues to raise questions as, according to Sam Everingham, a director of the Australia-based consultancy Families Through Surrogacy, an example of “an unacceptable abuse of the limited pool of gestational surrogates globally” and, more broadly, the ethics of a practice that does not protect the rights of the women and children involved.
Since the first U.S. infant conceived with assisted reproductive technology (ART) was born in 1981, both the use of ART and the number of fertility clinics providing ART services have increased steadily in the United States. ART includes fertility treatments in which eggs or embryos are handled in the laboratory (i.e., in vitro fertilization [IVF] and related procedures). Although the majority of infants conceived through ART are singletons, women who undergo ART procedures are more likely than women who conceive naturally to deliver multiple-birth infants. Multiple births pose substantial risks for both mothers and infants, including obstetric complications, preterm delivery (<37 weeks), and low birthweight (<2,500 g) infants. This report provides state-specific information for the United States (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) on ART procedures performed in 2015 and compares birth outcomes that occurred in 2015 (resulting from ART procedures performed in 2014 and 2015) with outcomes for all infants born in the United States in 2015.
First published in 2011, under the same title, this report raises an alarm about the risks of multiple pregnancies in assisted reproduction, resulting from the common practice of transferring multiple embryos. Maternal complications, according to the report, include increased risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension, gestational diabetes, peripartum haemorrhage, operative delivery, postpartum depression, and heightened symptoms of anxiety and parenting stress. Multiple pregnancy is also associated with a six-fold increase in the risk of preterm birth, which is a leading cause of infant mortality and long-term mental and physical disabilities, including cerebral palsy, learning difficulties and chronic lung disease.
GIRE, a Mexico-based organization that has studied, documented, published, and advocated on international recently released a documentary on the practice in 2017. “Deseos” or “Longing” follows Mirna, a divorced gestational mother with three of her own and shines a critical light on the lack of regulation around surrogacy in Mexico.
Visit GIRE’s website and read the organization’s latest report on surrogacy in Mexico. In it, GIRE offers a comprehensive overview of the current status of surrogacy, the scope of the debate around the practice, legal frameworks, cases, and recommendations. The last includes, for example:
Legislation that defines surrogacy as a contract between gestational mothers and intended parents.
Decriminalization of all the parties involved, including any criminalization based on nationality, sexual orientation, marital status, and age.
Quality and confidential health and legal care for gestational mothers.
Guarantees that costs related to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum be covered by intended parents (regardless of birth outcomes).
Contract revisions be contingent on the involvement of a competent notary/judge and consent of all parties.
Notifications of relevant state and federal authorities to avoid problems related to registration, legal parentage, and citizenship while contracts are valid or after birth.
The Legal and Ethical Complexities of Sperm and Egg Donation
By Nightlife | March 27, 2017
Listen to medical research scientist, Damian Adams and Associate Professor in Health Law, Dr. Sonia Allen discuss challenges around sperm and egg donation, including issues related to the rights of parents, donors, and children.
Dr. Sonia Allen consults with the South Australian government on ARTs, sperm and egg donation. A report on her review of the South Australian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 1988 is available to read.
Update: In November 2017, the South Australian government tabled their response to the review conducted by Dr. Allan from 2015-2017. The Hon. Peter Malinauskas, Minister for Health, thanked Dr. Allan, stating the government had commissioned her due to her international expertise in the field. He then committed the government to establishing a donor-conception register, making the rights of donor-conceived people “a main priority for South Australia” and committing to implementing changes that “best reflect Dr. Allan’s recommendations.” Victoria enacted Dr. Allan’s model for access to information by donor-conceived people into law in March 2017 – the first of its kind in the world – and now South Australia has made the commitment to follow.
Russia is considering a ban on surrogacy until a review of the existing law is complete. This article briefly explains the current status of the practice and the direction of future legislation – both of which are heavily influenced by the Russian Orthodox Church, a longstanding voice against all forms of surrogacy and public in its opinion of the practice as a threat to traditional marriage, childbearing, and family formation.