Surrogacy and ‘gestational carriers’
Sir, – I refer to Breda O’Brien’s column (Opinion & Analysis, March 23rd). Surrogates have been referred to as gestational carriers for the past 20 years. It is the legal term that was used by the first court to distinguish traditional surrogates, who relinquished their own genetic child, from women who were merely carrying the child of another. The term is the proper one in the US, and the only type of surrogacy that is permitted in most US states.
She is accurate in saying surrogates earn on average $30,000 for their services over the three months of IVF treatment and nine months of gestation (equal to approximately $2 per hour), and that the overall cost for intended parents is between $100,000 and $150,000. These numbers are clearly expressed on our website and cost sheets.
However, contrary to the assertion that when it comes to the final cost, surrogates are getting the short end of the stick, most of the remaining funds are not for the agency, but paid for the IVF, lawyers, travel and medical expenses/insurance for the surrogate and the child. The agency fees are actually less than the amount the surrogate earns.
Ms O’Brien states: “You do not find wealthy women acting as surrogates.” Our surrogates come from an array of socioeconomic backgrounds, a good percentage of whom are nurses making six-figure salaries. The majority of Circle’s surrogates are middle class, educated, and, most important, financially secure women.
It was also disappointing to see the “women are being exploited” argument surface again. Within this misconception is the notion that women are too ignorant or ill-advised to make an informed decision about becoming surrogates. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Our surrogate screening team spends on average six weeks per candidate to ensure that Circle’s surrogates are fully educated on the process and aware of what surrogacy asks of them.
Ms O’Brien looks to Germany (rather than England, which permits reasonable compensation to surrogates) as a moral compass. However, Germany, despite its law banning compensated surrogacy, regularly permits intended parents to return from the United States with children born through gestational surrogacy, and to get German citizenship for those children. There is a process established for this return, which is all Ireland is looking to do as well.
What Ms O’Brien is missing most of all is the great joy that surrogacy provides to everyone involved.
At the end of the day, it’s the child’s welfare and best interests that are at the heart of every surrogacy arrangement at Circle Surrogacy. Our relationship-building between intended parents and surrogates has meant that every child born through our programme knows from where they came. – Yours, etc,
Director of Legal Services,