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Surrogacy - one of many Assisted Reproductive Technologies

A surrogacy arrangement is one in which one woman (the surrogate mother) agrees to bear a child for a couple (the intended parents) and surrender it at birth. This provides an opportunity for those who are unable to carry a child themselves to overcome their childlessness.

Who might opt for surrogacy?

Some women are unable to carry a child to term. A variety of causes account for this, including failure of the embryo to implant, repeated miscarriage, hysterectomy or a pelvic disorder. Some women experience problems such as dangerously high blood pressure, a heart condition or liver disease, so that pregnancy would entail a serious health risk for them. Some people may come to terms with their childlessness.

Others may find adoption or fostering an acceptable alternative, although this option is limited by the number of babies and children offered for adoption. For others surrogacy may be seen as a possible solution. Because surrogacy involves another person taking on the risks of pregnancy, it is only acceptable as a last resort, where it is impossible or very dangerous for the intended mother to carry a child herself.

Being a surrogate mother is an emotionally and physically demanding task. It is important that a woman considering this option has the backing of a partner, family or friends to provide emotional support and practical help throughout and after the pregnancy. Surrogacy is not something to enter into lightly. Careful consideration must be given to the medical, emotional, legal and practical issues, and to the implications of surrendering the child at birth. Thought must also be given to the effect on any existing children, the potential surrogate mother's partner, family and friends.