Commentary Maternity and Birthing

Desperate Measures: The American Fertility Association Responds to Recent Surrogacy Scandals

The American Fertility Association

The question that we keep hearing now is this: "Does this point to the need for additional regulation of surrogacy?"  Our feeling is no.  Regulation does not necessarily promote good practice. 

This has been an unsettling week in the world of assisted reproduction, and most especially, surrogacy.  As two professionals who have worked in this field for many, many years and who have created our respective families through assisted reproduction, including surrogacy, we have been in a state of shock.  Not since the “Baby M” case in 1986, has surrogacy created so much media attention.

We have received many questions this past week from patients and professionals in our field.  People have reacted with anger, fear, and feelings of betrayal.  Whenever a story this salacious hits the press, it is easy to forget that assisted reproduction is, in the vast majority of cases, a process with integrity and humanity.

Many people who choose to build their families through surrogacy can feel secure that the vast majority of professionals, surrogates and parents are decent and honest.  But in the past week, we have witnessed an example of what happens when a few professionals act illegally.

This leads to the question that we’re hearing, mostly from professionals: “Does this point to the need for additional regulation of surrogacy?”  Our feeling is no.  Regulation does not necessarily promote good practice.  The fact is that there are regulations, policies, and even laws in some states about surrogacy.  None of those were followed in this extreme situation.  For those already willing to break the law, additional regulations wouldn’t have made any difference.

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Another question, which is perhaps unanswerable, is: “Why?”  We will probably never know the whole story of the motivations of those involved.  What we do know at The AFA is that there are desperate people who will take desperate measures to fulfill their dreams of becoming parents – and there will always be some individuals who will take advantage of them if they can.  As an organization, The AFA’s goal is to try to ensure access to family buildling methods that are safe, informed and legal.

Finally, while this case has involved former colleagues and supporters of The AFA, we want to be perfectly clear that The AFA denounces the practices that have reportedly occurred.  Any kind of so-called “baby selling” is abhorrent, and contrary to everything that we stand for.

Though the conversation will continue, let’s try to remember that assisted reproduction, including surrogacy, has provided thousands of families with the dream of having a child.  At The AFA, we want to make sure that this dream stays alive.

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