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Week of 9.18.09

Surrogacy: Wombs for Rent?

Are babies being bought and sold in the United States?

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The Weekly Q
Commercial surrogacy—when women are paid to carry and deliver babies for people who cannot conceive them biologically—is banned in almost every developed country in the world except the U.S., making it a land of opportunity for parents around the world.

In June, celebrity parents Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker announced publicly they had twins delivered via surrogate. But surrogacy services and their oversight vary from state to state, creating a strong potential for deceit and fraud.

This week, NOW's Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa follows the surrogate pregnancy of a single mother over the course of several months. When she was 14 weeks pregnant, the surrogate agency that brokered the deal between her and the future parents vanished, leaving the woman stranded without health insurance and nowhere to turn.

NOW investigates how shady surrogacy services and a lack of regulation in the U.S. may be defrauding hopeful parents and victimizing mothers trying to help them.

Life Now: Women and Men in the 21st Century

Civil lawsuits:

Filed by intended parents against SurroGenesis, a surrogacy agency (pdf)

Filed by Health Net, an insurance company, against B-Coming, a surrogacy agency (pdf)

Surrogacy: News and Facts

Web Feature

Q & A: From Intern to Producer
Is an unpaid internship worth the time? It sure was for Habiba Nosheen, producer of "Womb for Rent?"
BBC: Addicted to surrogacy

Forbes: Want To Work For $3 An Hour? Try surrogate motherhood

MSNBC: SJP opens up about surrogacy

Newsweek: The Curious Lives of Surrogates

The New York Times: Baby M, Ethics and the Law

Slate: Will Sarah Jessica Parker's Surrogate Get Visitation Rights?

State Laws on Surrogacy—Center for American Progress: Guide to State Surrogacy Laws and Wikipedia: Legality in the U.S.

What it Costs: For A Surrogate

Viewer Comments

Commenter: Beverly
I am surprised that this story is so one sided. There are many agencies that are very good at what they do. I am a surrogate with CSP and they are wonderful. All aspects of the surrogacy are handled with care and consideration and our experience has been nothing but wonderful. Try doing a story on a surrogate who is not single and in poverty. I am 37, have been married for 16 years, and have 3 children. Surrogates come from all different areas and not all do it for compensation.


Commenter: Beverly
In response to Jade....

I am 37 years old and am currently a surrogate. I have been married for 16 years and have three beautiful children. They are the reason that I became a surrogate. We are not low income or poverty stricken. We are part of the middle class and pay our bills on time. No one is takng advantage of us.

I look into the faces of my children and try to imagine what life would have been like without them. What if my doctor had told me that carrying and giving birth to them would be impossible for me. I would have wanted someone to help us. I would have needed someone to reach out to us and be willing to make our dreams of becoming a parent possible. For someone who has a family member that is willing to help, they are very fortunate. But being a surrogate is not something everyone is willing to do, not even family.

My husband and I thought about me being a surrogate for awhile before we decided to do this. Yes, the agency that we are working with does make money from a surrogacy contract. They also provide the surrogate and intended parents with counseling and guidance throughout the process. They are there to make sure that the contracts are clear and everyone is represented fairly. There are many facets to this that you don't understand.

To say that some couples should just accept their infertily is heartless. Should the 45 year old man in need of a kidney just accept his fate or does he have the right to seek help. Is it ok for him to go on an organ donor list or accept a kidney from a living donor, even if that person is a "stranger"? Should he only be willing to accept one from a family member? When there is someone who is willing to help a couple look into the face of their own child, should she not do it?

I am not being paid a salary for carrying this child. I am paid for pain and suffering during the pregnancy. Anyone who has every been pregnant knows that toll that it takes on your body and everything that it entails. There are fertility shots (mine were at about 120 total), exams, tests, psychological evaluations, transfers, meetings,.....The list goes on and on. Being a surrogate is not for the faint of heart.

But I can assure you that we are not in any kind of slave trade business and this baby is loved by everyone involved. Surrogates are smart, intelligent women who go into this knowing they are helping a couple have what they have. Their own children.

I've been asked this question many many times. How can you give the baby up when it's born? Won't it bother you? My answer is always the same......

The intended parents entrusted me with their child. It took great courage for them to allow me to carry their child for 9 months. I am not biologically related to this little boy inside of me. He has a mom and dad who love him and have waited for him for years. I have the honor to be a small part of his beginning and I also have the honor of giving him to his parents after he is born. We will love him and get updates on his life. But he will finally be home where he was always meant to be.

Surrogacy is not a business for brokering or money. It is truly a matter of the heart. The hearts of the surrogates who give life to these beautiful children. And also the hearts of the parents who have fought through infertility and heartache to have them.

I do this out of love.


Commenter: Sharon LaMothe
What most new Intended Parents and Surrogates don't know is How Much They Don't Know! The key is education and research. With most surrogacy arrangements, through agencies, come happy endings. With expert guidance and knowledge, an agency can make a surrogacy arrangement work between 'strangers' who are like minded in their goals. Please don't paint all agencies with the same brush. Intended Parents: Do your research, ask the right questions, get referrals, hire a consultant if you feel overwhelmed, and listen to your instincts. Surrogates: Make sure you know everything that is expected of you, have your own separate legal representation, have any money that is stated in the contract for your care put into a trusted escrow account, and insist that all parties involved are psychologically evaluated. Making families is an honor and a privilege for many of us who have been touched by surrogacy. Let's hope that this show will bring to the forefront just what is involved and what needs to be done to prevent criminal actions, like the one depicted here, from happening again!

Sharon LaMothe
Infertility Answers, Inc.
http://infertilityanswers.org/
LaMothe Services, LLC
http://lamotheservices.com/


Commenter: Michele
Surrogacy is a wonderful way for those who cannot carry a child to have a child of their own. The parents and the surrogate are adults. They each understand their roles and go into this situation with their eyes wide open. There is mandatory counseling on both sides to prep them for this journey. Other people should not but pushing their personal beliefs onto someone else's decisions.

With that in mind, let's look at the big picture. OF COURSE the surrogates are doing it for the money. They need the money and want to do a wonderful thing by helping a baby come into the world.

People sell their bodies every day. The people making minimum wage digging ditches, taking out garbage, and performing hard manual labor are selling their bodies. When you sit behind a desk all day and answer phones you are selling your labor and presence. I am not sure where the bright line begins and ends on the majority of what people think is "acceptable" but this varies to each person. If the parties involved are willing, then why disallow them to participate in surrogacy?

Some may see it as the "rich" ones exploiting the "poor" ones in this situation. However, look at the couple in this video: they were not rich and saved for years and years. They are willing to sacrifice to be able to afford the surrogate. The women who volunteer to be surrogates not only want to help a couple in need, but they need money too. This money can help with debt, paying for college, or even helping out with the needs of their families.

The point is that this is a way for beautiful children to be brought into the world to those who can't do it on their own and for someone who is compassionate enough to care to help them and also be helped financially in return.

UNTIL YOU ARE IN THE SITUATION WHERE YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE CANNOT CONCEIVE OR YOU'RE WILLING TO BE A SURROGATE BECAUSE YOU ARE COMPASSIONATE ENOUGH AND COULD USE SOME EXTRA MONEY, YOU CANNOT UNDERSTAND AND SHOULD NOT BE PROTESTING THIS WONDERFUL PROGRAM.


Commenter: Colleen
I have nothing against surrogacy, I think these women are 'angels' to give barren women a chance to become bio-moms especially when it can be hard to adopt a newborn. But there should be some federal govt. regulations with couples from other countries.


Commenter: gary champagne
You have no problem carring your sisters/brothers' child but a stranger doing so is wrong??? Are we not all familly ?


Commenter: Gary Champagne
As a father who was taken away from his child, were my rights not taken away ? A surragote has agreed to give up the child by contract & payment for her time.

A Father who is refused custody of their child faces the same laws. I lived in a country which only accepts the rights of the mother if she is a citizen of that country as a non citizen I was told My son was a citizen of their country, internationally he has both, I was confrounted with the loss of my son for ever or my wife losing our son to the government.

I have to wonder why the legal system still has a problem with surragote parents, they date back to the start of time . Moses started the mosluims with a slave wife??? which is the basis of our format.

Watching your law review tonight,regarding the contractual law dealing with surragate parents in the US I was struck with the lack of consideration for history. Yes a women giving birth to a child my change her mind, but the biological father has no choice ???? He has entered into the same contract, as has his wife, to care for the child. With the surragate refussing to accept the agreement, he, the father is being held to a standard that she the surragate mother is not. The law must be clear on these matters it is an adoption....

Yes, an exceptional one , but the rigths of the father can as the court states can not be taken away as he has the same rights & obligations.

Sadly from your program you wish this to be consisdered a sale of a child, under the law, it is set up as a hope for a couple to have a familly.

Should the law not reflect the facts, a contract is a contract.


Commenter: Jade
There is something inherently strange and immoral to pay a complete stranger to carry a child for you. It is one thing for a family member to carry for another, it is quite another to have agencies raking in millions in profits at the expense of low income women in the US and around the world. Some people can have children, others cannot. Infertility is something that must be accepted. It is sadly a part of life. Though I do feel badly for those who were frauded, I feel worse for the surrogates who are carrying babies and bonding and surrendering them. I feel even worse for the children resulting from these transactions. Exploitation, transactions, growing a family no matter what you want to dress it up as, is just not right. Classism, poverty and using humans as breeders is a dark time in human history. Supply, demand and profitting in the realm of children makes it by proxy another form of slave trading.If you cant pay for sex legally why should paying someone to have your kid be?


Commenter: Lizzie
I don't think that it is wrong for a woman to carry another couple's child... yet, more than one embryo is created, but only one is implanted... what of the rest of the embryos? Life begins at conception, so those embryos are legit. babies-- people who deserve a voice. What excuse is there for this?


Commenter: Tammy
I am so saddened by this. I knew Tanya back in 2003-2006 and she was a nice normal person. I even used her agency in 2006 to match with a couple as a Surrogate. It was my second Surrogacy. We did not use "her" escrow company but rather a different one based out of San Diego. I was not with her long as the match never resulted in a pregnancy but back in 2006 I had NO problems.

I think Greed really took over Tayna. Surrogacy in general is good and safe. There are many many more success stories then there are bad ones.

I hope that this incident does not ruin surrogacy for the rest.


Commenter: tanya seymour
i have always thought about becoming a surregate how do i do it


Commenter: Paul
I am generally a fan of NOW, but this story really surprised me. It was so one-sided that I thought I was watching Fox. To condemn the entire practice of surrogacy because of a single actor engaging in criminal fraud is absurd. By that logic no practice would be allowable. All this example really argues for is proper regulation of surrogacy.


Commenter: ****
i was/am good friends with Tonnya Collins daughter and she is a sweet person, she told me to watch this video so i would see what happend. pray for her because she is going through a really hard time right now and she could use it.


Commenter: cyn
Mary,

Like you, I want to "love and care for a child, and to help that child reach his or her full potential as a human being."

I also agree that "any other reason to have a child seem egotistic" but it happens every day.

The reason you have never "felt a duty to carry on my family line or produce a biological mini-me" is because you have never had that ability taken away from you. You would feel very differently if you had to weigh childlessness, surrogacy and adoption.

I can't get over how many people have this idea that "there are a lot of children already in the world who don't have parents or a good home."

The truth is those who want to adopt outnumber the amount of children who are available. International is severely restricted.

And how would you feel taking them into your home?
Are you willing to adopt someone older than 1 year who may have serious problems already due to their no parents, bad parents, or bad home? Special needs? Are you willing to adopt someone whose parents are living? Are you willing to maintain an open relationship with them?

How would you feel knowing that the birth mom really wanted to keep her baby and was coerced or miseld? Are you willing to adopt inter-racially? Are you willing to adopt even though you can have a biological child?


Commenter: Jill
If some of you "highly educated" people would do some research many women and men whom have suffered any form of cancer are not allowed to adopt. They are considered "UNHEALTHY". So for some it is the only option for them to have a biological, 1/2 biological or even a non-biological child.
If you don't like it, don't do it, watch it, or read about it!!!!!!


Commenter: gwen78
Thanks to all for sharing your stories! No easy answers here, and it seems that the many broken hearts might have been prevented with some oversight.

Excellent journalism!


Commenter: Mary Schopper
I have a biological child, so maybe I have NO IDEA what it feels like to be infertile; however, I have never felt a duty to carry on my family line or produce a biological mini-me. I just wanted to love and care for a child, and to help that child reach his or her full potential as a human being. Any other reason to have a child seem egotistic.
I have no problem with surrogacy if it's easier and cheaper than adoption. But my understanding is that there are a lot of children already in the world who don't have parents or a good home.


Commenter: Maggie
First of all, M. La Paz, get your names straight,her name is Jen, not Jan. You are an ignorant person. Jen's point of view could not be more spot on. She was paid for her time and effort that goes into being a surrogate. Not for the baby. As an intended parent myself there is not enough money in the world I would pay my surrogate, who happened to be a close friend, for all she did for us to become parents. I will forever be thankful to her. Surrogate Mothers are some of the most caring and loving people you will ever meet.

Until you have walked in the shoes of a surrogate or intended parent you will have no idea what it feels like and what the reality is. Surrogacy is a true gift and that is something no one can take away.

As for Tonya Collins, she is an evil person and hopefully justice will prevail and put her behind bars. I can't think of anything lower than to take advantage of people relying on her to help them make their dreams come true to have a family.


Commenter: Eddie
As a victim of SurroGenesis scam myself, I thank you for bringing attention to our struggles.


Commenter: M. La Paz
Oh, Jan Owens. Jan, Jan, Jan! You are quibbling, quibbling, bibbling! You identify yourself as a gestational surrogate. As long as you accepted one single dollar or cent along with someone else's egg/sperm, you were an integral part of the process of baby buying. You did not donate your expenses by paying for them yourself, did you? No. You accepted money. Baby buying. Period. It may help you assauge your guilt to reside in your particular state of denial. But get real, Jan. You accepted payment, in whatever form. That's money. That's payment. That's buying a baby. Also, since when did the production of offspring with your very own DNA become a 'right'? That is a concept that is patently ridiculous, Jan.


Commenter: cyn
what many commentators don't realize is the following--at least in my arrangement:

1 - both parties do get separate, independent legal counsel paid for by intended parents

2 - the idea that there are many "parent-less American children" is so ill informed. please, show me all the parentless american children, and i will take one. if they have no parents, how were they born?

3 - the right of fertiles to have bio child, yet insist we do not is so ridiculous. think about the value our society puts on parenting...biological "mini mes"...

4 - hiring a surrogate is not selfish -- carriers can't do it without altruism. adoption could be considered just as selfish and exploitative.

5 - adoption can be just as - if not more - immoral and like baby selling. research utah adoptions...it's disgusting.

There is not a store full of "parentless" babies just waiting for us infertiles. Adoption takes almost as much money and more time -- and the intrusion of social workers etc that fertiles never have to endure.

Through IVF, the FDA and agency were in my business. All surrogacy laws in my state are to protect the carrier, not me. The agency and lawyers and doctors all protect the carrier as they should.

Now, adoption -- FBI background checks, social worker visits, a birth mother forever in my life...

Maybe having a child isn't everything but I am certain all the folks complaining that we don't "just adopt" have their own bio kids and NO IDEA what it takes to adopt in time and money and red tape. And no idea what it feels like to not be able to have a biological child...to end your family line.

To those concerned about economic inequity this is but one small branch of a much larger tree. Lack of affordable education, health care, child care, and corporations with insane profits, all help create conditions where someone MIGHT do this solely for money -- but they do not.


Commenter: Stella Jameson
Watched your show. It was eye opening and example of solid journalism.

I am so glad we still have a few shows out there giving us more than the soundbites and this show did that.

I am surprised at the conversation here that the story was "one-sided." I totally disagree. I really got to see the positive side of surrogacy through the couple that you had on the show who seemed so sincere and it broke my heart to hear their story.

As for surrogate mothers commenting here: I am really happy to read that some of you have had positive experiences that's really great. But the point is that the surrogate mother in the story had also expected to have a positive experience. Without regulation you are taking a huge chance that this can happen to anyone. I thought the show was about the fact that surrogacy can be great but there are people out there who will exploit the lack of regulation like that woman who ran away with the money.

My only question: Why didn't the FBI say anything? I would have wanted to hear from them. What are they doing about this?

Overall great show. It has really made me want to know more about surrogacy.


Commenter: joan meierotto
Great show! Keep up the good work.
Thanks.


Commenter: Heather
As a former surrogate, and former employee of SurroGenesis, i am sickened by what Tonya has done. I can not wait until she gets whats coming to her, and i hope she spends allot of time behind bars. I feel so bad for all the intend parents who have lost everything, as well as the surrogates who were hurt by this.


Commenter: Ariel
Your story was utterly slanted and focused only on a corrupt surrogacy agency and a surrogate who was mistreated. There are plenty of happy surrogacy stories and legitimate surrogacy agencies that do not exploit surrogates or intended parents. The question of regulating the surrogacy industry is a good one and deserves exploration, but your report did not do justice to the topic. The leading questions and the poor quality of the reporting was worthy of Fox.


Commenter: Jen Owens
I carried as a gestational surrogate 3 times giving birth to 5 babies. None of those babies were BOUGHT. One cannot sell what is not theirs. These babies were the Intended Parent's babies from the start. All I did was carry them in my womb. In a sense I babysat their babies and was compensated for that.

This baby selling view is just ridiculous.

I said this before and will say it again. To those that feel that infertile couples should adopt, have you adopted? Did you choose to adopt these children in need rather than have your own biological children? I am willing to bet that just about all of you would have to say no. So, stop trying to push the responsibility on infertile couples. They have the same right as you do to pursue a biological child.

I can't believe the better than attitude of some people.


Commenter: Jeff
I believe it is more of a complex issue than a simple yes or no. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, such are controversial issues such as surrogacy. We, as a couple, were offered this option by a close and lifelong friend. She had asked that only her expenses be covered and that we be supportive to her throughout the entire process. After much debate, My (then finance') and I felt that the complications and strain on the friendship, though a most genuine offer had been made, may have had lasting and irreversible effects. Our decision at that time was to thank her gracefully and refuse the offer. That being said, I now believe that we could have gone through with the process and kept our friendship with her intact. On the other hand, I personally, would not solicit for hire, a surrogate whom would have no part in the child's life, as this goes beyond prostitution, In my moral beliefs. Adoption, from the birth mother, is so devastating in a lot of cases as well but is more fairly regulated and reversible. My ending comment is this.. "Why hire or pay a surrogate or adoptive birth mother to take away and live with the empty hole I am possessing, just so I can be happy, I find this to be very selfish".


Commenter: Arianwen Everett
While I liked this segment of NOW, I think you were a bit one sided, and should have shown a positive surrogacy experience along side the negative Surrogenesis situation, so that viewers could see what surrogacy can be when it is done right.

This Surrogenesis company commited fraud, embezzlement, and other crimes, and I feel a specially targeted investigation into the surrogacy industry would be a good idea. However, I also agree with the woman who mentioned the need to hold the line in regards to the abortion debate by not touching the issue as anything other than a business with a few bad players.

Surrogacy helps many people have families, and can provide a nice financial coushion to those willing to go through a complicated and often difficult process like pregnancy, to fulfill other people's most cherished dreams. However, regulation often gets too heavy handed, once it gets going, and there are far more deserving industries that we need to deal with first.


Commenter: M. La Paz
It confounds me that, in this time of perilous over-population, right-to-lifer's and others support the buying and selling of human beings. Even legalized adoption processes, so changed over the years, are tinged with the taint of buying children. For those who don't get it - the buying and selling of human life after birth is morally and ethically debase, repugnant, sick, sinful, wrong, and should be illegal!! I can feel for women who want children. They do have the option to adopt already birthed children desperate for loving parents and homelife. As much as I can sympathize with infertile couples, all people have to deal with the cards we are dealt in life. People are born with devastating disabilities and soldiers return to us from war horribly disabled, their lives forever changed. Having no other option legally but to adopt just doesn't reside within the same category of need. Are all Americans in denial of the over-population that now exists on our earth? In denial of how it affects the rise in violence and bullying behavior in our schools, media, and national politics?? Make the buying of babies illegal! ADOPT!


Commenter: Allison
I really want to be a surrogate for someone and I think it is really sad that this stuff happens to make everyone question the entire practice of it. I don't want money for it at all...I just want to give someone the gift of something as amazing as a baby.


Commenter: robin
Saw the show and am in total agreement with allowing this industry but also feel that some governmental control of these companies is needed on a national and/or state level.


Commenter: Jen Owens
I am a surrogate and wow I am almost at a loss for words.

For those that think that surrogacy should be illegal and that these couples that want a child so badly should adopt, here's a question for you. Do you have children? If so, why did you choose to have children instead of adopting? Why is it the responsibility of childless couples to adopt rather than strive for a biological child? It is absolutely ridiculous to put the responsibility of adopting all these children in need on childless couples. I am shocked when I hear people say that. :(

As for being a poor, helpless, ignorant surrogate, well you are not talking about me. I am a college educated, married, homeowner with little to no debt. If I had thin skin I would be insulted by the assumption that all surrogates are poor, money-motivated women. But, instead I will take this as an opportunity to point out that once again you can't believe everything the media says and if you do, that's too bad.

I could go on, but won't


Commenter: James Ellis III
I this story last night. Many people struggle with loneliness (which ought to be addressed holistically), but it is sad still to see adults so unwilling to accept their inability to conceive naturally. When people are willing to pay a woman to birth a child for them or to take their chances with IVF, for me the situation generally oozes with selfishness. When did it become taboo and unreasonable for a couple that was infertile to simply accept that reality and adopt if they still desired children? Children are indeed a blessing, but they ought not be the subject of ill-adjusted, emotionally unstable adults who want what they want when they want it like toddlers in a toy store. There is a problem when conception becomes a lesson in selfishness.


Commenter: andi
Shame on your and your pathetic "article." Most of us surrogates are highly educated, professional women who are not pimping ourselves out for a quick buck. We set out to help create families. I nearly died delivering my surrogate child, but I am sure you consider that just the way things go with us uterine prostitutes, right?

Thanks for your one-sided, poorly written excuse for a broadcast. You have done us surrogates no favors. Surely NONE of you involved in this production have ever experienced infertility. People with opinions like yours never have.

Let's hope you never have to deal with the pain of childlessness; where will YOU turn? I hope if you DO turn to surrogacy, you have a change of heart and decide to do something GOOD for the surrogacy world, rather than this drivel you call news.

Sleep well! Shame, shame.


Commenter: Nobi
I watched your segment on Surragacy and was sadden by the rip off.

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with a woman "willing" to be a surrogate for a couple, if they are NOT capable of having their own children. Fact is, the couple and the surragote mother SHOULD interact DIRECTLY with one another, after drawing up ALL the LEGAL documents, with a MEETING of the MINDS.

ALL EXPENSES for the surrogate child, should be calculated, including the price agreed upon to be a surrogate mother and placed in an Escrow Account. Half of the payment should be given to the Surrogate Mother AFTER the embryo is successfully conceived.

NO WAY should the CEO of this business oversee the funds, paid for making the connection, of course. It should have been set up in the Surrogate and the expecting couples names.

With so many children in Foster care, it would be wonderful if childless couples would pursue this avenue; then again, I understand there is much RED TAPE in trying to adopt foster children, and why many take the surrogate route.

This could be a very simple process if the couples and surrogate mothers involved would do the smart thing, MEET one another, if price and conditions are agreed on, SET UP THE ESCROW account, then start the process.

Bottom line, there is RISK in every facet of life! I feel very sad for the women left with the expense, who was LOVING enough to continue the pregnancy, and the other woman not getting the child they paid for.


Commenter: Susan F.
While I can empathize the woman and her husband who wanted to hire a surrogate to carry their genetic child, I am concerned about the underlying trend in this murky area, namely that these folks first want their genetic child, and will hold out for that rather than consider adoption.

I am not questioning their desire to be parents; rather, I am uncertain what to make of their strong preference for a child created with their egg and sperm combination, albeit in a petri dish.

Because this is, for the most part, a completely unregulated industry that deals with fundamentals of when life begins, et al., it is difficult to establish exactly why it is that these potential parents are willing to "rent-a-womb" for their genetic offspring versus adopting a child in need of a family. Ethics, anyone?

And what of the young woman carrying the baby for the couple from Spain? What and where are her rights? From my perspective, she is the person most in need of legal protections.

While technologies that allow this process (IVF) and others like it to be developed and consequently used broadly, I am concerned because I do not hear anyone discussing the larger consequences, as clearly illustrated by your program.

In other words: that these procedures exist and for the most part are successful does not automatically sanction their unregulated and widespread use.

Careful consideration of the consequences is required and is, at the moment, sadly lacking.

When will we learn?

Thanks for a great program,

Susan F.
San Diego, CA


Commenter: E
As a traditional surrogate mother I am offended by this video. Not once have I ever charged a dime to intended parents. All I have ever asked was for them to cover what my insurance dosent.


Commenter: Ron Plummer
To Jean regarding your comment on how we define citizenry; I believe this discussion is not metaphorically black or white regardless of where in the spectrum of possibilities one clings to. Moralists and realists each bring valuable concerns and fears to the table that unfortunately end up with each sliding down a slippery slope when making that leap towards domination. Although seemingly somewhat tangential to most of you reading this commentary, your (Jean) portrayal of reality vs. morality as the foundation of the surrogacy controversy reminded me of the 1990 movie "The Handmaiden's Tale;" taken from Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel of the same name. After reading your comment I spent the past
two hours watching that movie (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTnFQYW9CbY


Commenter: Kelly Rummelhart
Not all Surrogates are poor. I hate that stereotype! I have a Masters in Education and my husband and I have good jobs, we just chose to help another couple have a baby. And we had a marvelous experience!

We also have an agency that we trust, Growing Generations that has been around since 1996 http://www.growinggenerations.com/

I blogged about my first surrogacy here www.justthestork.blogspot.com (if you start at March 2008- you'll start in the beginning).

I agree that there should be some laws surrounding surrogacy but that it should still be an option.

Health Insurance for Surrogacy- http://www.newlifeagency.com/


Commenter: Pamela MacPhee
As a surrogate mom who had an incredibly wonderful experience carrying a baby for my cousin, it is so disheartening for me to hear about surrogate mothers and intended parents who have been exploited by a criminal agency, a morally bankrupt woman, who destroyed or compromised the dreams of so many vulnerable couples and women. I am so sorry for their dashed hopes and their pain. Surrogacy is a gift, it is an opportunity to find hope where infertility has caused devastation and it can and should be a beautiful, fulfilling, joyful journey. I wish that for all of them. And it is NOT anything like baby selling. A surrogate accepts someone else's embryo to carry in a safe, nurturing space until their baby is ready to be delivered back to them. While surrogates get paid, it is for their time, commitment and effort to provide a home for the baby, NOT for the baby itself. I encourage people and government to consider the value the benefits of surrogacy, giving couples hope and families they so desperately wish for. I agree it is necessary, however, to focus now what seems to be some poorly needed legislation to legitimize the conduct of the surrogacy industry and guarantee the protection of the surrogate mothers and the intended couples on their journeys to fulfill their dreams. They deserve that support at the very least.


Commenter: JoAnn Witt
I'm not opposed to surrogacy, but I'm opposed to agencies; because, the agencies charge too much and are unreliable. If someone wants to be a contact for a small fee, for time spent, I would be comfortabe with that, but most of the money should go to the woman, who is using her personal health to help a couple, that she should be able to meet and learn about. There should be a contract, notarized, between the couple and the woman. A woman is giving up a lot do this, and she should charge a huge fee.


Commenter: BCarter
Does there need to be regulation? No. The gov't doesn't need to 'regulate' every dang part of our lives.

Does "news" / 'special reporting" entities, such as NOW, funded by our tax dollars need to be regulated? DANGED correct on that.

Let's see now, ya reported on 1, count 'em on yer fingers now, ONE surrogacy 'agency' wherein it seems obvious a fiscal crime was committed.

The report makes it clear and obviousL the only reason you chose 1 agency is because ya have but a single-mindedness


Commenter: Amber
This program was chilling. Because legislators are unwilling to touch the issue, it leaves a loophole for unscrupulous businesses to take advantage of both the surrogates and the childless couples seeking their "services". The whole thing is a barrel of fishhooks. You can't touch it without getting snagged on some unpleasant and questionable aspect of it.

Perhaps good sense prevails in the rest of the world where it is simply illegal. It DOES come too close to a combination of prostitution and selling babies. It exploits the people with money who want a child at any cost as well as the poverty of the women who carry the children for pay. It's a shame that Salina ended up no better off for all her trouble. I felt for the woman who wanted a child so desperately too. Her face was a mask of grief. I hate to suggest that this not be an option for her, but it would have prevented her from being fleeced by a company prepared to play on her desire to be a mother.


Commenter: Phyllis A. Coleman
Should a wealthy woman be allowed to rent the services of a fertile, far less wealthy woman's reproductive processes? Yes. Is it wrong? Not if the surrogate does not enter into the situation under duress and ignorance and not if the child will go to loving and able parents.

Whether we like it or not, wealthy persons are able to do things that less wealthy persons are not in any society. I just ask that whatever they get to do not be illegal, exploitative or unethical as I would request of anybody.

What I would like to see in surrogate arrangements is the requirement that each party have independent legal representation in the contractual arrangement so that each party's interests and funds are protected. As for the definition of what the embryo is when the contract is signed and for the duration of the pregnancy, for right now, can only be mutually defined by the applicable parties on a contract by contract basis. It should be mandatory that all surrogate contracts show who the birth mother is so that there is a historical record of the biology of the child.

Where I see that government oversight, at the Federal level, could be helpful is to enforce a review of the intended parents' ability to care for the child, to require counseling for surrogates to make sure they are ready to enter into such an agreement, to ensure that the parents' funds and rights to the child are protected, enforce the insurance coverage (with fair premium adjustments) and applicable payments to surrogates per the terms of the contract, and to consistently audit the business entities handling the surrogate contract.

The one concern I have is that many surrogates most likely will not be able to afford independent legal representation putting them at a disadvantage from the very beginning of the surrogacy negotiations.


Commenter: Michael Royal
The notion that people will pay a woman to carry their fertilized egg rather than adopt one of the hundreds of thousands of parent-less American children shows that they don't want a child, family, etc. They want their own child, at any cost to anyone. Hardly the kind of ethics one would hope parents might possess.

This is another example of ethical disgrace that has become all too commonplace in what was once a great country.


Commenter: Patricia lazzar
I want it and I want it now.......is the philosophy of choice in our country. Surrogacy is so far from Natural Law and family development that is normal for humans. Yes, I believe it is ABNORMAL reproduction.
It's a business venture that exploits all individuals involved. Scary to observe humans behaving, evolving into a less developed species.
Guess we humans have reached ultimate development and now have begun to backslide. Sure seems that way...look how people behave.....


Commenter: Diana Davis
I see serrogacy more as 'baby sitting' rather than 'baby selling'. Somewhat like foster parenting until the biological parants are able to take over the care of the child. I see it as an act of unselfish love to provide the service of incubation to couples who do not have the ability to provide it for their own babies. What I think is wrong is the abuses to both the serrogate mother(the incubator nanny), the biological parents, and possibly to the embrios. This is the part that is the crime; and this is what needs to be stopped.


Commenter: Maryanne Bell
I am the surrogate mother to my husband's sperm and an anonymous donor's ovum. I have and am at all times married to my husband whom I love and I wanted to have his baby but could not get pregnant with my ovum. Through ovum donation from an anonymous donor whose feet I would like to genuflect before since I became a mother because of her and have a beautiful almost 10 year old, happy, fabulous, gifted boy.

I have no biological relationship with my son and I worry that when you legislate for or against surrogacy - you are also threatening situations like mine where I am considered a gestational but not a biological mother. I am more my son's surrogate mother to my husband and another woman's child in a sense. But in every sense conceivable spiritually, emotionally and physically I AM MY SON'S MOTHER AND I DON'T WANT THE GOVERNMENT THREATENING MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY BELOVED FAMILY MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH A $2000 PURCHASE OF A STUDENT'S OVUM.


Commenter: CT Thomason
I'm angered by your program. I am against any business that operates dishonesty, so the company you feature should receive it's due criticism. However, surrogacy in and of itself is a gift from one woman to another. Unless someone has experienced infertility themselves, how can they pass judgement? Many women (and young girls) get pregnant with ease and either abort their babies or see it as a burden to raise them. Yet other women like me are infertile but would give anything to bring a child into this world and love her unconditionally. I am a responsible, hard working, college educated women, and my husband and I are fortunate enough to have the resources to have the hope of a baby of our own, not through surrogacy, but through egg donation, which in the views of your program, are likely very similar, to use your words, 'babies for sale.' The agency that helped us was nothing but legitimate and professional, and without our donor's help, our pregnancy which is currently at 31 weeks would not have been possible. The compensation the donor receives is nowhere near requisite to the sacrifice of her time and the discomfort of the mediations and retrieval process. Similarly, it is a painful process for the recipient mother. Set the months of injections aside, I have complications of pregnancy unrelated to the donation process that will keep me in the hospital for 8 weeks or more and create a signficant sacrifice to my husband and I. But, we love this baby so much that we would endure any pain, any cost. Having children is a god-given right for most women, but sadly not possible for those of us unlucky few that so often want it most. Medical science has made the impossible now possible. Only those ignorant people that do not understand would deny us that right or pass judgement.


Commenter: Penny Burt
Leave surrogacy alone! It is one more way to have the government or "moralists" get their hands and laws on our bodies. MYOB.


Commenter: sarah
where there is commerce there is greed. A baby has be-
come a commodity. I do not doubt that there are well
meaning surrogates. I do not doubt there are well
meaning prospective parents. When money is exchanged
the best intentions become commerce.
Even a microscopic cluster of cells has become a thing
of monetary value. A cluster of cells has become a thing of political value. oh. my. What's the
difference?


Commenter: Mike Landis
Surrogates are exposed to significant medical risks even after all expenses are paid. I would not ban the practice, but regulation is sorely needed. Surrogates need serious medical coverage which should include treatment for any complications arising from pregnancy or delivery that affects the suggogate for the rest of her life.

If OSHA were regulating the situation, they would rule that the parents of the fetus should be responsible for the medical expenses of the baby AND surrogate. The surrogate should be guaranteed her fee without liability for doctors and hospital fees. Minimum surrogate fees should scale with living and medical costs in the surrogate's local economy. Economists could model the problem, but my gut feeling is that given the risks, $20k is too low for any US resident surrogate. My guess is $35k is closer to a minimum fee in the US (and that figure may still be too low), with cost of living adjustments for higher cost locales.

California's nonprofit model for medical marijuana might serve as a starting point for intermediary fees, but if I were drafting the bill, I'd cap the intermediary's fees at 10% of funds earmarked for the surrogate, with no commission load imposed on medical insurance costs. If $35k to surrogate (if she lives in Arkansas or Oklahoma where cost of living is very low for U.S.), $3.5k to the intermediary, with the biological parents paying $38.5k plus a serious medical insurance policy. The escrow company should be bonded, insured, regulated etc. so the parties involved can't be robbed.

The first pregnancy is usually the most difficult, so it might make sense to require that surrogates have at least one pregnancy behind them before becoming eligible.

The hard part is where there are medical interventions that impose unbalanced risks on the surrogate and fetus. Whose health takes precedence? I'd say the surrogate's health supersedes the fetus' unless her death or a serious medical condition will inevitably result, wherein the fetus' health could supersede the surrogate's.

That's my take.


Commenter: Louise E. Ellis
Surrogacy should be regulated so people cannot be victimized.

I do not think surrogacy should be illegal because it will continue among people who will not obey the law and parents who are desperate. Morality aside, that is a fact.


Commenter: oldParasiteSingle
I think surrogacy is fine. I also think abortion is fine. Single-parenting is fine. Prostitution is fine. Gay marriage is fine. All fine. In other words, I think there isn't anything inherently evil or good about the act of surrogacy. Nevertheless, anyone who is still considering surrogacy better be prepared for dealing with the rest too. Remember that under the right conditions surrogacy can be used to clone yourself for rejection-free organ harvests. Parents have been known to go that far for an elder child, so why not do it with a surrogate?


Commenter: Kim Reed-Deemer
There are so many children in the world, are already born into dire circumstances, who need the love and attention of caring adults in some capacity that there really is no justification for surrogacy and other extreme reproductive technologies other than sheer self absorption. Any one who sincerely feels they have much to give to a child would not care if that child was their biological offspring. There are many opportunities out there for people who cannot have children but who still have much to give to children in need. There are some circumstances in life we simply have to accept and adapt to with grace.


Commenter: Claire McNeill
A surrogate mother does not just "carry" the developing fetus. She provides its essential nutrition, enabling the tiny embryo to become a child. Yes, surrogacy should be regulated, so that the woman who agrees to grow the baby has all medical expenses paid. She also should receive a monthly payment to ensure she is not cheated when the baby is handed over. In addition, a public education campaign could alert prospective surrogate mothers about the dangers they need to protect themselves against.


Commenter: Rita Stanley
This industry must be regulated but should remain legal. Those who are willing to pay so much to have biologically-related children, and women who, for whatever reason, agree to carry them, don't need to be scammed.

Common sense and the beauty of parenthood are more important than any other issue we face in this ravaged economy. Children are the future of this planet. Everything else is scary, but just politics as usual.


Commenter: Reverend Russ
Surrogate motherhood... this business has flourished as we live in worship of a morally neutral "free market" approach to everything... so it is not surprising to learn that none of our elected officials wants to tackle the problem or even express outrage.

It seems to me that the desire of parenthood would be better served via adopting children that are in need of a home, having survived birth.


Commenter: Malcolm McLeod
Just watched the Surrogacy birth mother program, yes it does need regulation


Commenter: Jean
How do we define our citizenary? Are we a country of edict or helpfulness for our citizens? Abortion: Helpful or Edict? Does one sided moral rightness cover the needs of all situations and all citizens? Is the legal shunning of these who do not fit correct? WHat society would this create?

People who need and can be responsible for a child should legally have their needs fulfilled [the manner(ProLife-Surrogate) is a non-issue]. This is helpful to these citizens and our community as a whole.

People who want children for control of another person with no intent(or comprehension) of being morally and emotionally and financially responsible should not be repsonsible for another human being. This is not helpful for a single individual, and when this individual grows up not helpful for a community or society.

Why is this country focused on moral edicts rather than helpful legislation? Does all legislation have to be forceful moral edicts to win "the vote"?

WHy does not any of this matter on the news or in politics, but simply and only a "response" to the driving force of the radical conservative? Why no drive, no leadership, on the opposing side? What good is simply a "response" when good helpful, reality-based leadership could smother the "news" of these radical conservatives, no matter how loud they get?


Commenter: Linda Farina
I think that surrogacy, with no genetic connection is not wrong. When people become professional athletes or actors they are, in effect, selling their bodies to entertain other people. To sell your bodily function to help a childless couple have a natural family is, I think. on a higher plane that that.
The problem, of course, arises in the structuring and regulation of this endeavor.
Perhaps it presents too many complexities to work. But I don't think the concept is immoral.
By the way, if the surrogate is also the real mother, I would not approve.


Commenter: Wayne Brumley
More basic question: By what premise has there become the idea that every woman or couple is gauranteed the right to children? Who decided that every woman or couple should be able to have a child, even if that means that it be by surrogacy? Birth by surrogate is only a question if it is assumed that every woman or couple MUST have the right to their own child and that adoption is not acceptable. Without this assumption of a right to a child the RIGHT to use surrogacy falls apart.


Commenter: GreggJ
I feel bad for mothers that want to become pregnant but can't. However I feel that surrogate mothers do it because they are inticed by the promise of cash. It's a bad deal for everyone involved and surrogacy should be illegal and banned in the USA.


Commenter: Sandra
How can you even ask this question "Right or Wrong"! This can be only decided on an individual basis because if you are not able to have children like I am you would love this idea but then there is the money you need to afford this which we don't have. Your question should have been about regulating surrogacy which is more than needed so that people like us have some rights and security that they not always loose their money. We have spend oven 20000 dollar on infertility treatments to have a child and still have none. You could have asked how people could be better supported. It seems rather unfair to ask people who can have children to make a decision about people who cannot have children.


Commenter: Aaron Davis
I am sure there are thousands of kids in the World who would love the opportunity to be adopted by a family here in the US. I think choosing surrogacy over adoption is somewhat selfish because you are missing the chance of helping someone else.


Commenter: Barbara howe
I believe surrogacy is a devious way to buy and sell
babies.
There are many disappointments in our lives that we must live with. they can become opportunities to do some good if we change our perspective from our own selfish desire and think of helping others.


Commenter: J.B
I AM FOR IT!

i am for it because, there are soooo many people out there who want children more than anything, and they would be great parents, and they have so much love and opportunities to give, and it wouldn't be fair to tell them that they aren't allowed to have one of their own, when so many women just have one after another and push them aside, and let welfare take care of them, or the system, not even really caring about them, and when so many women go out and get one abortion after another...
it just would'nt be fair to tell a woman who can't carry a baby of her own that she will never have her dream of being a mother to her own biological baby,


Commenter: Daniel Narvaes
Allowing parents to pay women to carry their babies is not necessarily wrong, but you're right to suggest that the rich end up better off than the poor, by allowing surrogacy. It might be a good idea to require people to make a sacrifice other than money. $20,000 is no sacrifice, for the very rich. Perhaps if they were required to adopt an unwanted child for every surrogate baby they had, that would be better. Morally, I think it would be better if people would consider adoption rather than surrogacy anyway; my proposed requirement would be a method of enforcing that they not only consider adoption, but do it!


Commenter: Ana-Aegi Clothiaux
What a complex issue. As a mother and a women I so deeply understand the biological desire to reproduce, both as an expression of the love of my relationship and as a women who has a nuturing loving heart. Adopting a child can be tricky with all our knowledge of attachment and emotional issues we have.
Thanks for bringing this issue forward.
Ana-Aegi Clothiaux


Commenter: Scott
I think surrogacy is fine but I don't want public money to fund it. Public money should cover contraception. Surrogacy is for people who can afford it. I also feel that insurance shouldn't cover costly infertility treatments. It's one thing to offer some drugs but another to charge a tone of money for mixing things up in a test tube. If people can't afford surrogacy nor infertility treatment they should adopt or join Big Brothers/Big Sisters.


Commenter: Melanie
There are millions of cared for and uncared for children in the world. While we can't individually control pollution, crime and so many other things, this is one thing on which an individual can make the right choice. The world does not need more children. If it happens naturally, so be it. Messing with nature...have we not yet learned our lesson?
I'm speaking from the perspective of someone who could not have her own children, and had 2 adoption attempts fail due to legal issues in the foreign country. I will not end up having children, though I too desperately wanted them. Seek fulfillment within yourself. And stop adding to the pollution by thinking that unless you have what everyone else has, you can't be fulfilled. It's nonsense. It's all up to you.


Commenter: Kathy Watkins
It should tell us something that surrogacy is outlawed in most other countries. In the U.S. exploiting poor women in the service of the rich is business as usual. I wish I had not been born an American.


Commenter: Mike
I am shocked she would terminate a child that was so far along into the pregnancy.

I have always seen myself at pro-choice, but that was pretty eye opening. This industry needs to be seriously regulated.


Commenter: candee03
By the way, Conservatism is NOT dead! I would rather be a conservative than a liberal with no conscious like most democrats.

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