Even though surrogacy is a personal decision, women choose it mainly for the money, compassion, and health benefits.
Surrogate women are compassionate and selfless. Due to infertility and other birth-related problems, some women are unable to conceive. As a result, most of them resort to surrogacy, which has gained popularity recently. In brief, surrogacy is the act of carrying a pregnancy to term on behalf of someone else. The process is facilitated by using different assisted reproductive treatment (ART) interventions, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). The practice has elicited mixed reactions to its perceived ethical issues because some surrogate mothers demand payments for the services. Even though surrogacy is a personal decision, women choose it mainly for the money, compassion, and health benefits.
Some women choose surrogacy for its financial rewards. Even though altruism motivates women to provide surrogacy services for free, others demand a fee to carry the pregnancy. The habit has been criticized and outlawed in many regions, but it is prevalent across the world. For example, Everingham, Stafford-Bell, and Hammarberg (2014) posit that the practice is widespread not only in Australia but also in some states of the U.S. and India, where the average estimated cost is between $69,212 and $172,347. Women who provide the services perceive the practice as a profession that requires compensation. Therefore, some women offer to carry pregnancies strictly for commercial purposes.
In contrast, surrogacy in other women is motivated by compassion. While some women focus on money, there are others whose primary motivation is to help an infertile couple. In most cases, compassionate surrogates provide services only to close relatives or friends. According to Gerber and O’Byrne (2015), most states in the U.S. prohibit compensated surrogacy, but not the compassionate one because the majority of surrogate women are just enthusiastic about assisting their friends. Despite surrogacy being such a demanding activity, the women carry the pregnancy for nine months solely for compassion. Although the number of such individuals is not high in other parts of the world, it is apparent that not every surrogate mother seeks a financial reward for the service.
On the other hand, some women choose surrogacy because it results in health benefits. Typically, a mother intending to carry a pregnancy on behalf of another person is required to undergo a medical examination. The requirement helps to ensure that the surrogate is healthy enough to host a fetus for the entire period. The screening process usually focuses on the uterus, drug usage, Pap test, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The cost of undergoing the tests is prohibitively expensive for most women, but surrogate mothers do not incur the charges directly as they are catered for by the person who seeks their services. As a result, the surrogate mothers agree to carry a pregnancy because it will give them an opportunity for free health examination (Knoche, 2014; Gerber and O’Byrne, 2015). Therefore, free medical checkups motivate some surrogate mothers to help women who, for different reasons, may not become pregnant.
Several reasons compel some women to become surrogate mothers. Even though it is not possible to generalize the practice, it is apparent that some surrogate women are influenced by the financial compensation that comes with carrying a pregnancy. In countries where the practice is widespread, women are still paid for the service, including India and Australia. However, not all states allow compensated surrogacy in the U.S. Women who do not seek compensation carry a fetus strictly for compassion, and the practice is prevalent among close friends and family members. Other women prefer surrogacy because it comes with health benefits. Specifically, surrogate women undergo health checkups, which would be ordinarily costly, yet are offered freely during the surrogacy period. Therefore, surrogate women have their motivations, but it is clear that the practice requires altruism even when money is involved.
Everingham, S. G., Stafford-Bell, M. A., & Hammarberg, K. (2014). Australians’ use of surrogacy. The Medical Journal of Australia, 201(5), 270–273. https://doi.org/10.5694/mja13.11311
Gerber, P., & O’Byrne, K. (2015). Surrogacy, Law and Human Rights. Burlington, NJ: Ashgate Publishing.
Knoche, J. W. (2014). Health concerns and ethical considerations regarding international surrogacy. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 126(2), 183–186. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijgo.2014.03.020