Tag: surrogate mothers

Bioethics Blogs

When Women are Surrogate Mothers: Is that work?

Alana Cattapan, Angela Cameron, and Vanessa Gruben warn that speaking about “compensation” is a way of avoiding difficult conversations about payment to surrogates.

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A recent Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) news article reported that the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS) has called for the federal government to reconsider the ban on payment for surrogacy in Canada. The article suggests that industry professionals and academics alike are coming around on compensation for surrogacy, with support growing all the time.

In Canada, payment for surrogacy, egg donation, and sperm donation is banned under the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act. Under the Act, surrogates (like egg donors and sperm donors) can be reimbursed for receipted expenses. With a note from their doctor, surrogates can also receive some money for lost work-related income during pregnancy.

The Act states that this reimbursement of expenses must follow the relevant regulations. Until now, however, these regulations have never been drafted. After more than a decade, Health Canada is now in the throes of making them. This is occurring as surrogacy in Canada is expanding to accommodate more and more people from countries where surrogacy is more expensive, harder to access or banned completely.

Women Working in a Field by Winslow Homer 1867.

It is in this context that the CFAS (which is a part-medical association, part-industry organization representing the fertility industry and its doctors, lawyers, scientists and ethicists) has called for the government to reconsider the ban on payment.

 It is important to know that the market in surrogacy in Canada is a profitable one.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

The biological status of the early human embryo. When does human life begins?

“Those who argue that that embryo can be destroyed with impunity will have to prove that this newly created life is not human. And no-one, to the best of our knowledge, has yet been able to do so.”

Introduction

In order to determine the nature of the human embryo, we need to know its biological, anthropological, philosophical, and even its legal reality. In our opinion, however, the anthropological, philosophical and legal reality of the embryo — the basis of its human rights — must be built upon its biological reality (see also HERE).

Consequently, one of the most widely debated topics in the field of bioethics is to determine when human life begins, and particularly to define the biological status of the human embryo, particularly the early embryo, i.e. from impregnation of the egg by the sperm until its implantation in the maternal endometrium.

Irrespective of this, though, this need to define when human life begins is also due to the fact that during the early stages of human life — approximately during its first 14 days — this young embryo is subject to extensive and diverse threats that, in many cases, lead to its destruction (see HERE).

These threats affect embryos created naturally, mainly through the use of drugs or technical procedures used in the control of human fertility that act via an anti-implantation mechanism, especially intrauterine devices (as DIU); this is also the case of drugs used in emergency contraception, such as levonorgestrel or ulipristal-based drugs (see HERE), because both act via an anti-implantation mechanism in 50% of cases.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

The biological status of the early human embryo. When does human life begins?

“Those who argue that that embryo can be destroyed with impunity will have to prove that this newly created life is not human. And no-one, to the best of our knowledge, has yet been able to do so.”

Introduction

In order to determine the nature of the human embryo, we need to know its biological, anthropological, philosophical, and even its legal reality. In our opinion, however, the anthropological, philosophical and legal reality of the embryo — the basis of its human rights — must be built upon its biological reality (see also HERE).

Consequently, one of the most widely debated topics in the field of bioethics is to determine when human life begins, and particularly to define the biological status of the human embryo, particularly the early embryo, i.e. from impregnation of the egg by the sperm until its implantation in the maternal endometrium.

Irrespective of this, though, this need to define when human life begins (see our article  is also due to the fact that during the early stages of human life — approximately during its first 14 days — this young embryo is subject to extensive and diverse threats that, in many cases, lead to its destruction (see HERE).

These threats affect embryos created naturally, mainly through the use of drugs or technical procedures used in the control of human fertility that act via an anti-implantation mechanism, especially intrauterine devices (as DIU); this is also the case of drugs used in emergency contraception, such as levonorgestrel or ulipristal-based drugs (see HERE), because both act via an anti-implantation mechanism in most of the time.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Surrogacy Now Legal in DC

As of April 7th, surrogacy is now legal in the District of Columbia.  B21-0016, the Collaborative Reproduction Amendment Act of 2015, allows surrogacy agreements to be made and enforced.  Previously, surrogacy contracts of any kind (commercial or not) were illegal, and contracting parties could be imprisoned and fined.[1]  The new law permits both gestational and traditional surrogacy.[2]

DC joins 46 states in permitting surrogacy contracts.  Only Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Washington prohibit surrogacy arrangements.[3]  Although surrogacy is legal to varying degrees across the country, it is a harmful and exploitative method of assisted reproduction.[4]  Perhaps most often overlooked is the fact that surrogacy arrangements violate the human rights of the child.  As George Annas argues, “Surrogacy [arrangements] never [consider] the child’s welfare, only the welfare of the contracting parents.”[5]

[1] http://www.nbc-2.com/story/35095100/legislation-ends-decades-old-ban-on-surrogacy-contracts-in-dc

[2] http://www.creativefamilyconnections.com/us-surrogacy-law-map/dc

[3] http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2017/04/19109/ e

[4] http://www.cbc-network.org/pdfs/What-is-Wrong-with-Surrogacy-Center-for-Bioethics-and-Culture.pdf

[5] George J. Annas, “Fairy Tales Surrogate Mothers Tell” in Surrogate Motherhood: Politics and Privacy, ed. Larry Gostin (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University, 1990), 52.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Surrogacy in the Market of Desire

The State of Florida has spilled no small quantity of ink outlining the legal confines of gestational surrogacy (see particularly sections 742.13-742.17, here).  Legally permitted gestational surrogacy in Florida does not include “bringing in and harboring aliens, sex trafficking of children, forced labor and furthering slave traffic,” however; these charges were leveled against Esthela Clark in 2015. Clark had held a Mexican woman in her one-bedroom apartment, repeatedly inseminating her with semen from Clark’s boyfriend. When the woman failed to become pregnant, she was forced to have sex with two strangers, and placed on a diet restricted to beans.  On 29 March 2017, the 47-year-old Clark from Jacksonville, FL, pled guilty to one count of forced labor. The woman had been forced to clean Clark’s apartment. (See story here.)  What happened to the issues surrounding the smuggling of the woman across the border in order to be a surrogate for Clark and her boyfriend?

On the other side of the globe, India is arguably the world’s leading provider of surrogate mothers, with the industry estimated several years ago as “likely worth $500 million to $2.3 billion.”  India legalized surrogacy in 2002, and is now considering reining in its surrogacy situation:

 

  • The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 was introduced by Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Mr. J. P. Nadda in Lok Sabha on November 21, 2016.  The Bill defines surrogacy as a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple and agrees to hand over the child after the birth to the intending couple.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Human genome editing report strikes the right balance between risks and benefits

Gene therapy is growing in its capabilities, but there should be limits to its use. Shutterstock

If you recognise the words “CRISPR-mediated gene editing”, then you’ll know that our ability to alter DNA has recently become much more efficient, faster and cheaper.

This has inevitably led to serious discussions about gene therapy, which is the direct modification of someone’s DNA to rectify a genetic disorder, such as sickle cell anaemia or haemophilia. And you may also have heard of deliberate genetic enhancement, to realise a healthy person’s dreams of improving their genome.

Both of these issues have now been tackled in a comprehensive report on gene editing released today by the US National Academy of Science and National Academy of Medicine.

The message is fairly simple: relax, we’ve seen this all before, little if any harm has eventuated, and society is well placed to move forward together on this.

A definite maybe

Of all human technologies, recombinant DNA has arguably been one of the safest. There have been multiple benefits in both medicine and agriculture. And the legitimate concerns that arose when viruses were first mixed with bacterial genes, when cloning was first introduced, and when stem cells were developed, have not come to pass.

I cannot list all the benefits here, but if you have received the Hepatitis B vaccine or Australian Ian Fraser’s Gardasil vaccine, which protects against cervical cancer viruses, you have been protected from disease thanks to recombinant DNA technology.

However, you probably haven’t received somatic gene therapy, which is gene alteration directed at fixing one cell type, such as defective blood or liver cells.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Indian Surrogate Mothers Grab Last Chance to Make Babies Ahead of Impending Ban

January 20, 2017

(Reuters) – Inside a bungalow in a plush residential area of Gurugram, on the outskirts of New Delhi, a group of women in different stages of pregnancy share the hope their babies will be delivered safely – or risk losing the chance of big money, forever. Successful pregnancies have never been more important at this surrogacy center where every bed is taken following a jump in demand as India inches towards banning commercial surrogacy. These women could be among the last in the country to rent their wombs for money if the Indian parliament passes a bill to outlaw commercial surrogacy – a 15-year-old industry estimated to be worth as much as $2.3 billion annually – in its next session starting in February.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Destination Laos: the ever-changing surrogacy business changes again

The dreary design of the website and Facebook page of Find Surrogate Mother (aka surrogacy inc) makes depressing reading. The business describes itself as “a full service Surrogacy Agency in Manila, Philippines, helping to match Surrogate Mothers, Intended Parents, Egg Donors, Sperm Donors [which] provide[s] services for Heterosexual Couple, Gay Couple, Lesbian Couple, Single Woman, Single Man.”  

For desperately poor Filipino women, it must seem like a golden opportunity.

Unfortunately for them, the Filipino government is cracking down on what it describes as a “human trafficking syndicate”. It detained four women on New Year’s Day as they were about to leave Manila for Phnom Penh, there to be impregnated with the sperm of men from Australia, Germany, China and Nigeria. They were to be paid US$10,000.

Philippine Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the police had uncovered “a new modus operandi of a human trafficking syndicate that preys on our Filipino women who are enticed to bear children of strangers for a fee because of their poverty”.

Surrogacy for foreign clients is officially illegal in Cambodia, but surrogacy brokers are still active there, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The incident shows just how flexible the surrogacy industry is. Only months after surrogacy clinics for foreigners were closed in India, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, they opened in Phnom Penh. According to the Herald, “The operators look for poor, lightly regulated countries that don’t have laws dealing directly with surrogacy, such as Cambodia.”

With the crackdown in Cambodia, the operators are simply shifting their business to Laos.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Philippine Police Arrest Surrogate Mothers-to-Be in Human Trafficking Crackdown

January 5, 2017

(The Sydney Morning Herald) – A “human trafficking syndicate” has been hiring Filipino women to travel to Cambodia to carry surrogacy babies for foreigners, including Australians, Philippine authorities say. Four women were detained at Manila’s international airport on New Year’s Day while about to depart for Phnom Penh, indicating that surrogacy clinics are still operating in the city despite a crackdown on commercial surrogacy there.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Mexico Proposal to Ban Human-Embryo Research Would Stifle Science

December 7, 2016

(Nature) – The amendment is intended to regulate assisted reproduction, including the payment of surrogate mothers, donations to egg and sperm banks and the fertilization of more than three eggs at a time. But it would also ban the creation of human embryos for any purpose except reproduction and any research with existing human embryos. Such restrictions are intended to address Mexico’s thriving reproductive tourism industry, which has few protections for surrogate mothers. But the proposed amendment would have prohibited a scientific world first that took place in Mexico: the conception of a baby with DNA from three people.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.