Have you ever heard of social surrogacy? What is it, and what does it mean for the future of parenthood?
As we all now know from the Kardashians, surrogacy is when a woman agrees to carry a baby on behalf of another couple or person, due to infertility, who will then become the child’s legal parent(s) after birth – whether single, couple, gay, and/or straight. But social surrogacy often includes individuals and couples that are not routinely labeled as “infertile.”
In fact, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has created official guidelines that require that gestational carriers – surrogates who carry babies conceived through IVF, with eggs from another woman – should be used only when there is a medical need.
But, what about when it involves a gay male couple? What if a woman believes that it will hurt her career, such as an actress who makes millions of dollars per film? Does it include women who are afraid of being pregnant or women who believe that it will “ruin” their body?
What about a woman who has a physically demanding job that does not work well with being pregnant? What about a single male that wants to parent his own child without the restrictions of child support and custody?
Many circles of thought believe that surrogacy should be reserved only for women who have had issues during previous pregnancies or fertility treatments and are unable to carry a pregnancy to term. Understandably, any criticism and reluctance towards social surrogacy is an expected response, especially due to religious and moral implications for many.
But, is it a shame as some critics have labeled it, including this article in Huffington Post several years ago? When dealing with these definitions, shouldn’t they be both inclusive and all-encompassing? Should consenting adults be restricted from an activity that a third-party disagrees with?
Despite all this criticism, social surrogacy is becoming more acceptable in places such as California where the state legislature’s Senate Bill SB729 is going through the Senate to mandate coverage of infertility treatments of those who are infertile.
The bill, authored by Sen. Menjivar, requires health plans to provide coverage for fertility care, including treatment for infertility and IVF. “It’s going to help the LGBTQ+ community or gay men, couples who want to start a family, me and my wife — the stories of so many individuals,” Sen. Menjivar said. “It’s also going to get the heart of individuals who froze eggs because of diseases and illnesses.”
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