Monday, July 29, 2013

Social surrogacy for non-medical reasons

Traditionally surrogacy has been reserved as a treatment option for women whose uterus was absent or was irreparably damaged . It is an expensive treatment option , which involves a lot of coordination as well as legal issues to make sure that the child is handed over to the intended parents. However, we are now seeing an interesting trend , so that there are women who are no longer using surrogacy for medical reasons , but for social reasons !

These are women who know that they are able to carry the pregnancy themselves, but who decide for social reasons not to get pregnant themselves , but to use a surrogate instead. They have a wide variety of reasons for choosing this route. Some are very busy and successful career women, who don't want to take a break in their professional career , as this will harm their chances of becoming the CEO. Others are models who don't want their figure to altered as a result of pregnancy. Some feel it's just too stressful for them to go through pregnancy , and if they don't need to do it themselves , and can get someone else to carry a baby for them, then why shouldn't they use this option ?

This raises a number of interesting ethical issues ! Is it right for the doctor to accept such requests, even when there is no valid medical reason for doing surrogacy ? Or is the doctor being very presumptuous by refusing such requests ? After all , these are intelligent, educated successful women, who know their own mind . If this is what they have decided they want the doctor to do for them, is it ethical on the part of the doctor to reject these requests, just because he feels they are not medically appropriate ?

After all, if a decision is made by a patient , doesn't the doctor need to respect her autonomy ? If there no downsides to doing surrogacy for social reasons , shouldn't patients be allowed to choose for themselves ? These are thorny issues , and we don't have all the answers as yet .

It's interesting to see how reproductive technology which was originally developed for treating medical problems is now increasingly being used for social reasons . For example, egg banking , which was originally invented as a method to preserve the fertility potential of young women with cancer,  is now far more commonly used by women who want to postpone childbearing for nonmedical reasons !

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