Surrogacy is the process of a couple seeking out another woman who agrees to become pregnant on their behalf. When the baby is born, the infant is brought to the intended parents are their child to raise and start a new life together as a family. This is one of the more popular alternatives couples pursue when obstacles, such as medical concerns, get in the way of a safe traditional childbirth.
However, as might be expected from something as significant as one person agreeing to give birth to a child for another group, there are ethical considerations to address. Different countries have their own approaches to this, although some are more comprehensive than others. What should you be looking for to ensure that you do so safely and ethically if you undertake the surrogate motherhood journey?
The Surrogate Mother Has Rights
One of the most important ethical considerations in protecting the surrogate mother herself. There have been issues in the past, especially with couples in the developed world going to third-world countries, of people ignoring or abusing the rights of a surrogate mother who is making a substantial sacrifice on behalf of a couple. The most famous example is the 2014 case of Pattaramon Janbua, a surrogate mother who agreed to a gestational surrogacy for an Australian couple.
Medical exams during the pregnancy revealed that she was giving birth to twins, a boy and a girl. The boy had Down’s Syndrome due to hereditary conditions from the Australian couple. When the couple was informed, they told Pattarmon Janbua to abort the child with Down’s Syndrome but keep the girl they were interested in. This violated Janbua’s Buddhist principles, and she refused to do it. Instead, once the babies were born, the Australian couple took the healthy girl and abandoned the boy with Down’s Syndrome, so Janbua took care of the baby instead, even though she couldn’t afford to do so.
There was so much controversy over how callously the Australian couple reacted to the lives of the newborn babies and their surrogate mother that the Thai government banned foreigners from using Thai women as surrogate mothers. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident, and some couples still consider abusing their privilege and position of power in developed nations to push surrogate mothers into difficult situations.
Another issue is protecting the rights of a surrogate baby once born, especially regarding matters of citizenship. People who go to poorer countries to save money usually do so at the peril of the surrogate baby’s legal status. Citizenship is only straightforward when it comes to biological birth origin. A child born of a citizen of one country who becomes the child of a couple from abroad is not automatically conferred citizenship with that couple.
The reality is, without knowledge of how the laws of different countries interact, it’s possible for a child to be born “stateless,” not considered a citizen of any country, and thus not allowed to enter any country.
The country of Georgia, in eastern Europe, is a modern, progressive European nation that has modernized its constitution and laws to keep pace with the 21st century. For example, surrogacy has laws within the Georgian constitution that clearly outlines the rights of both the surrogate mother and the intended parents. This means that while the rights of the parents regarding custody of a newborn are protected, the surrogate mother also receives the full benefit of legally binding documents that protect her rights and outline her expectations during the surrogacy process. Foreign visitors cannot exploit Georgian surrogate mothers in the same way the infamous Australian couple trampled the dignity and rights of both Pattaromon Janbua and the baby she provided them that they didn’t want. This means that as long as Georgian laws on surrogacy are being observed, both the surrogate mother and the intended parents have their rights, and the government protects those rights.
Just as importantly, Georgia’s experience with foreign visitors for surrogacy means a comprehensive legal infrastructure is in place to help new parents resolve legal and citizenship issues with newborns, ensuring that the babies can safely return to their intended country of residence as citizens. It’s important to note that new parents must exercise caution in this area. Babies born to foreign parents in Georgia do not automatically receive Georgian citizenship, so parents must either familiarize themselves with their own country’s citizenship laws regarding newborns or work with experienced surrogacy services that often have lawyers experienced in international law and citizenship to address the specific needs of each country.
When combined with other factors, such as lower cost, more experience with foreign visitors, and world-class facilities, Georgia becomes a top destination for couples that want a successful but ethical surrogacy that protects everyone. As long as couples observe all the requirements of Georgian law, surrogacy takes place with experienced, ethical staff at world-class clinics and hospitals to ensure everyone is safe and healthy.