The definition of Surrogacy

The first and most important element of surrogacy is that a woman agrees and volunteers to help someone else.  Therefore, all those cases that look like surrogacy, feel like surrogacy, and are often referred to as surrogacy, BUT, with no proof that the woman “agreed” to participate in the arrangement – are NOT surrogacy.  This is an important distinction.  Just as the field of surrogacy was once thought of as similar to adoption, they are clearly different and unique.  Surrogacy is a field of its own with rules and ethics that are unique. 

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The reason we are making this distinction may seem pedantic, but in practice, has far reaching consequences and potential outcomes. If there is no proof that a woman voluntarily agreed to participate in surrogacy, then she is likely to have been induced, coerced or forced against her will to carry a baby for someone else. This is not surrogacy and there are international laws to prevent this and protect women.  When there is any suspicion that this is happening, we as professionals, should never be afraid to challenge and/or report it by concluding, “this is not surrogacy it is something else.” 

If Professionals or the law turns a blind eye to this, then it undermines the trust and integrity of this precious field. When you consider that opponents of surrogacy argue that it is effectively coercion at a social level causing poor women to carry a baby for rich people, some have gone so far as to call it ‘reproductive prostitution’.  So, if a woman is indeed coerced to carry a pregnancy, it harms us all, and this cannot be called surrogacy. 

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