Surrogacy is the term used where a woman bears a child for another woman. The usual indications for this are that the woman cannot bear the child because the uterus is absent or malformed or when a medical condition exists making pregnancy a threat to her and/or her baby's health.

Natural surrogacy is when a healthy woman with normal ovaries, tubes and uterus is inseminated with sperm from the husband of a woman who is unable to carry a baby. If the surrogate woman becomes pregnant and has the baby, then the woman who cannot have the baby and her husband with whom she was originally inseminated adopt the baby. It is unethical for Fertility Associates to assist with natural surrogacy, such as by undertaking the insemination, without prior Ethics Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ECART)  approval.

IVF surrogacy is when the woman who is unable to bear the child has normal ovaries but is still unable to bear a child, undergoes IVF hormone stimulation and egg pick-up (OPU), with fertilisation of the eggs by her husband’s sperm. Then their embryos are transferred to the surrogate. The surrogate must be healthy, have a low risk for complications during any pregnancy that occurs and be willing, after delivery, to give the baby to the genetic parents from whose egg and sperm it was conceived.

The ethical and legal issues associated with surrogacy are not simple. The Ethics Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ECART) requires Fertility Associates to make an application in one or two stages. Considerable consultation and counselling is usually required before the application can be made. Fertility Associates is very supportive of IVF surrogacy when the woman who would carry the baby is a family member or a close personal friend of the couple who need surrogacy, especially if they have completed their family. Once approved the IVF treatment can normally proceed quickly. There is very limited public funding for IVF surrogacy and specific criteria need to be met.

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Related articles:

  • News item: The Gift of Life - Leanne is a surrogate mother for her friends, Emily and Steve. She was implanted with Emily and Steve’s embryo, which was created through in-vitro fertilisation. Read more here.