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The Peculiarities of being Surrogate Mother in the United States

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“I thought that selling an egg would be like giving blood, like checking the Organ Donation box on your driver’s license, like giving away something you’d never wanted or even noticed much to begin with. And yes, at first, I was just in it for the money. It wasn’t about altruism or feminism, or any other ism. It was about the cash…I was going to take that money and I was going to try to save my father.” (Weiner 12). Jennifer Weiner writes about the journey a college-aged woman, Julia Strauss, takes as a surrogate mother. In the book, Julie is approached by a man in a mall and offered $20,000 to carry a baby of his wife and him.

Surrogate mothering comes in two forms. A woman can be a traditional surrogate as she uses her own egg and is inseminated with a man’s sperm. A gestational surrogate, on the other hand, is implanted with another woman’s egg that has been fertilized with the sperm of her male partner. In either case, the surrogate carries the baby for the couple and is paid for the service of using her body to carry and birth the baby. Surrogate mothering is a highly controversial topic. Surrogate mothering is illegal in many countries and some states in the United States. Surrogacy should be legal because it has many benefits and it is ultimately the women’s decision on what she wants to do with her body.

Women often use a surrogate when they cannot get pregnant or carry a baby themselves. Surrogacy is a good option for women who are unable to have their own children. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 10% of women are physically unable to birth a child. Women struggle to birth a child for many reasons including sexual transmitted disease, not-ovulating, blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or cancer treatments. That is approximately 6.1 million women. With the help of a surrogate, couples incapable of carrying a baby themselves now can have a family due to another woman’s actions, and that baby is genetically related to one or both parents.

Some people argue that it is morally wrong for a surrogate to get paid. It is for religious reasons that some argue that women should not ‘sell their body’ to another person for pleasure or success. However, after reading the viewpoint from Independent Digital News and Media Limited, if a woman is strong enough to carry a baby for nine months and not take it home after delivering it, she deserves the money she is paid. “I would not condemn surrogate mothers who are physically robust and emotionally stable enough to be able to bring lifelong happiness to a childless couple.” (The Independent). Surrogate mothering can help women financially in so many ways. As stated in the novel Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner, the money paid towards the women helping the couple was going to help her father live and pay for medical bills.

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Many surrogates claim that they don’t do it for the money. Some find it gratifying to help a couple in need. One case in particular, Tawni, a thirty three year old grocery store manager was only eighteen years old when she received the news from her doctor that she was unable to birth a child. Tawni had an infection that affected her fallopian tubes. She then got married soon after, and magically birthed her first child. After Tawni had her second child, she decided the only right and just thing to do was to become a surrogate. Some women take for granted the ability to give birth. Tawni appreciated every second of her children’s births because there was a point in her life when she could not give birth. She was so anxious to get back onto the job after her second child, “later, when I was pregnant with my own third child, the same couple called me again and asked if I would carry another for them. I said, ‘Sorry, the womb is occupied. As soon as it’s free, I’ll let you know!’ (Bernstein). Tawni truly showed her true colors as a person when she decided to help others with something she used to struggle with. This shows true character within a woman who is willing to put her life at risk, to make another family’s hearts fulfilled.

Many critics of surrogate mothering claim that there is emotional distress caused to the surrogate when she has to give the baby she carried for nine month to another couple. Mr. and Mrs. W used a surrogate, NT, to carry their child while Mrs. W underwent cancer treatments. Unfortunately NT wanted full custody of the child after giving birth. NT claimed that there was domestic violence in the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. W, but at the end of the day, the decision was made by the court. “The court had to consider only which household could best meet the baby’s needs as she grew up.” (Harris 1). This has shown to be one of the recurring issues within surrogate mothers. It is understandable that a woman is emotionally attached to a child she delivers, but it is not what she signed up for. In states where surrogacy is legal, there are agencies that provide legal services to both surrogates and their commissioning couple to avoid situations like this.

Not all women are like NT though. Heidi and Tawni have both been surrogate mothers for quite some time now. Heidi, a store manager, tells journalist Nell Bernstein about her journey as both an egg donor and surrogate on seven different occasions, and plans to continue as long as she can. She has to take medications and take fertility shots, which can put her in danger, but feels it is worth the risk. “There are also a few medicines that really burn, but I have never said to myself, Why am I doing this? I know why I’m doing it: I love to help people.” (Berstein). Although Heidi did not fully give birth in all seven instances she donated her eggs, she still went through a dangerous process to bring joy to families. Clients in these battlefields such as Heidi and Tawni were happy to be helping families in desire. Tawni would update the mother with her child’s progress every single week. “Right after that first baby was born, my doctor wanted to hand her to me. I said, ‘No, give her to the mom.’ I know the importance of holding your baby those first few critical minutes.” (Bernstein). Tawni has been a surrogate mother three times now, and has had the responsibility of giving the baby away right after birth. She could not help but smile with delightment when she watched the parents gaze into their newborn’s eyes. Tawni was once impregnated with triplets for a couple. At the same time, this puts the surrogate mother at risk with a high-risk pregnancy and fertility shots. She was worried the couple would want to reduce the pregnancy, which would mean they would have to remove an embryo and give it to another surrogate for a better chance of survival. The triplets ended up being born about a month premature and Tawni had to stay away from her family in the hospital for six weeks. She claims everyone finds her crazy, but once she found something she loved to do, she kept doing it for the sake of others happiness.

Surrogate mothering has many benefits. It exemplifies a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body and the freedom to do it. Surrogacy also allows women who can not bear nor carry their own child to still raise a genetically related child. Surrogate mothers have demonstrated tremendous character by contributing to the greater good by giving couples the gift of life. Surrogate mothering has given the opportunity for women who are unable to birth children themselves to start a family. As responsible citizens of the United States, we the people need to help legalize the service of surrogacy. When one sees the backstories why some women choose to carry a baby for another woman, it should be nothing but clear that this act should be legalized. The positives outweigh the negatives in countless ways. If surrogacy is legalized, those negative effects can be minimized, if not negated.

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The Peculiarities of being Surrogate Mother in the United States. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-peculiarities-of-being-surrogate-mother-in-the-united-states/
“The Peculiarities of being Surrogate Mother in the United States.” Edubirdie, 08 Jul. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-peculiarities-of-being-surrogate-mother-in-the-united-states/
The Peculiarities of being Surrogate Mother in the United States. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-peculiarities-of-being-surrogate-mother-in-the-united-states/> [Accessed 31 Jan. 2023].
The Peculiarities of being Surrogate Mother in the United States [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 08 [cited 2023 Jan 31]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-peculiarities-of-being-surrogate-mother-in-the-united-states/
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