Surrogacy is when one woman (the surrogate mother) agrees to bear a child for another couple (the intended parents or the commissioning couple) and surrender it at birth.
There are two types of surrogacy. In ‘partial surrogacy’ the surrogate mother provides an egg which is fertilised with sperm from the intended father by IUI or IVF. In ‘full surrogacy’ (also known as ‘host’ or ‘IVF’ surrogacy) the surrogate mother has no genetic link with the child she carries. The embryos are usually created from the eggs and sperm of the intended parents, but sometimes donated eggs or sperm are used from anonymous donors to create the embryos for replacement into the host.
Who might benefit from surrogacy?
Any woman who is physically unable to carry a child could benefit from surrogacy. A variety of causes account for this - hysterectomy, repeated miscarriages, repeated failure of embryos to implant, or serious medical problems so that a pregnancy would entail a serious health risk for her.
Who should make decisions during and after pregnancy?
Ideally, a joint decision should be reached between the surrogate mother and the intended parents, but there may be times when their views will conflict. It should be clear to everyone involved that the surrogate mother, with the advice of health professionals, will make the final decisions. The type of decision might include termination of pregnancy for foetal abnormalities, or the preferred method of delivery.
After the delivery, provided the child has been passed to the intended parents, the responsibility for decision-making should also pass to them.
In this guide