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pregnant surrogate mother

The surrogacy process can feel a little overwhelming at times. With so many ins and outs for the various related parties, it’s perfectly natural to have some questions about how it works and what to expect. 

A common question is related to pregnancy termination and what the rights of the surrogate mother are, especially if what she wants does not necessarily align with what the intended parents want. This results in a morally, ethically, and legally complex issue. 

Luckily, choosing to work with a surrogacy agency means that you will benefit from their expertise and experience in these types of situations. Since gestational surrogacy is a fairly common practice now, there is plenty of precedent to help both intended parents and surrogates better understand the issue of pregnancy termination.

In this article, we’ll answer all your questions and tell you everything you need to know about surrogacy and pregnancy termination. We’ll go over the surrogate’s rights, or lack thereof, to terminate a pregnancy as well as scenarios in which pregnancy termination might be desired by the intended parents.  

Can a surrogate terminate the pregnancy? 

The answer to this question is somewhat complex, and it depends on how we define “can” in this context. Of course, no one can legally stop a surrogate from terminating the pregnancy. In other words, you can not physically restrain someone from terminating a pregnancy if that’s what they decide to do.  

Choosing to go through a surrogacy agency and drafting a surrogacy contract can effectively deter a surrogate from trying to terminate the pregnancy without the intended parents’ consent. It’s important to remember that surrogacy is a legal process and that the surrogate is providing a service to the intended parents. The surrogacy contract, and the surrogacy agency that oversees the process and drafts the contract, is designed to protect all parties. 

That being said, a surrogate’s rights are somewhat limited by the overall process. For instance, she has no parental rights and can’t decide to keep the baby, although she retains certain other rights that are important throughout the surrogacy journey. At the end of the day, she’s going through the pregnancy and is incurring all the risk that comes with the process. 

That means that a surrogate can not just terminate the pregnancy if she changes her mind, although she still has the right to: 

  • Decide which doctors or medical professionals she wants to see. 
  • Determine her birth plan, including which doula or midwife to use. 
  • Choose the location where she will give birth. 
  • Make medical decisions regarding her life and health. 
  • Establish communication guidelines before, during, and after the pregnancy. 
  • Choose her own legal counsel, which must be separate from the intended parents. 

 

However, if the health and safety of the surrogate is threatened by the pregnancy, then she will be able to terminate the pregnancy. It would be immoral, unethical, and illegal to force her to go through with it if she were in danger from the pregnancy. No one can force a surrogate to complete the pregnancy if there is a clear threat to her health and safety.

That means that all contingencies related to pregnancy termination must be extensively covered in the surrogacy contract. A surrogacy agency can use its legal expertise and experience to deal with all the complex issues that may come up during the surrogacy journey. This ensures that everyone’s needs and rights will always be amply protected. 

How will the screening process prevent a surrogate from changing her mind? 

Finding the right surrogate mother is one of the most important steps in the entire surrogacy journey. It’s helpful to think of the process as a collaboration between the intended parents and surrogate. In this context, you can easily see that the surrogate mother is 50% of the process and you can easily understand why choosing the right one is so critical. 

As we’ve established, a surrogate terminating the pregnancy is allowed only if she is in danger. However, if she simply changes her mind, then she will be in breach of the surrogacy contract. So how can intended parents ensure that they choose a surrogate that will be truly committed to the process? 

That’s what the surrogacy agency and the screening process can do! They help intended parents find the best possible candidates and avoid potential issues down the line. A reputable surrogacy agency will have a screening process in place to help identify the best possible surrogates for intended parents and ensure that the surrogate meets all the necessary qualifications while being trustworthy, responsible, and certain of her decision. Implementing this screening process and following these qualifications helps avoid further complications down the road, including the possible scenario in which the surrogate wants to terminate the pregnancy for non-health related reasons and the intended parents don’t. In other words, it’s an effective and efficient way to make sure that everyone is “on the same page.”. 

Reputable surrogacy agencies will use the screening process to make sure that surrogates are mentally, emotionally, and medically fit to carry another family’s child. If, for whatever reason, the surrogate is disqualified from the process, then the surrogacy agency will have a protocol in place to avoid that issue. 

This is precisely why there are strict requirements for becoming a surrogate. It’s a demanding job and it can take a serious toll on anyone who’s not prepared. Screening the surrogate will significantly decrease the chances that she’ll change her mind and try to get an abortion. 

At the very least, a thorough and proper screening process should include a background check, medical evaluation, drug test, psychological screening, home visit, financial review, and interview by the agency. Throughout the course of this process, the surrogacy agency can determine if the potential surrogate is truly committed to the surrogacy journey, thereby making it less likely that they will look to terminate the pregnancy at some point in time in the future. 

After the surrogacy agency has completed its screening process and submitted potential surrogates to the intended parents, there are a few things that the intended parents themselves can do. If you follow these basic strategies, it’ll be less likely that a conflict will later arise about terminating the pregnancy:

  • Remember that surrogacy is based on trust.
  • The relationship should feel comfortable and be a good fit. 
  • There should be a genuine connection between surrogate and intended parents. 
  • Always trust your intuition – if you’re uncertain, then go with your gut. 
  • Communication between all parties should be easy, natural, and effective.
  • Choose a surrogate who shares your values.

 

That last point is extra important! A surrogate with the same values as the intended parents will make for a more harmonious working relationship. For instance, if the surrogate is pro-life, then the intended parents can rest assured that they won’t try to terminate the pregnancy for non-health related reasons. 

How to communicate with the surrogate if she wants to terminate the pregnancy

Let’s assume that there is a disagreement between the intended parents and surrogate regarding pregnancy termination. In this scenario, the surrogate’s life and health are not in danger by the pregnancy – they’ve simply changed their mind. 

What should the intended parents do? What’s the best course of action? 

  • Remain calm. It won’t be helpful if the intended parents become too hostile towards the surrogate. 
  • Consider that it might be a passing feeling. A pregnancy is a demanding process with lots of conflicting emotions, so it’s possible that the surrogate is simply having a moment of “cold feet” that can pass. 
  • Offer help. If necessary, the intended parents can offer the surrogate professional help in the form of a psychologist, counselor, or support group that may know how to best deal with these types of feelings. The surrogacy agency will be an especially useful resource in this scenario. 
  • Rely on the surrogacy agency to handle communications. The agency will be more experienced in these situations and have likely encountered this issue before. 
  • Remind them that they’re under contract. If all else fails, and the surrogate is steadfast in her decision to terminate the pregnancy, then it’s probably best to have the lawyers take over and remind her that she will violate the surrogacy contract. 

 

Hopefully, this won’t be necessary as the screening process will find the right surrogate for the intended parents. 

What is selective reduction? 

Since in vitro fertilization (IVF) is most commonly used for surrogacy, a procedure known as selective reduction – also known as multifetal pregnancy reduction (MFPR) or selective termination – is commonly used. In this medical procedure, one or more fetuses in a multiples pregnancy are terminated. It typically occurs between 10 and 12 weeks of the pregnancy and is a minimally invasive procedure for the surrogate.

Selective reduction may be recommended by the doctor to increase the chances of one or two of the fetuses surviving the pregnancy. Pregnancy with multiples (three or more fetuses) carries various risks for both the fetuses and the surrogate, so in these cases selective reduction may be the best course of action. 

Finally, if a surrogate becomes pregnant with twins or triplets, her right to use selective reduction must also be covered in the surrogacy contract.     

Pregnancy termination: how surrogacy contracts protect intended parents

It is absolutely crucial to always have a surrogacy contract in place. This protects all parties and ensures that everyone understands what the expectations are and what can and can not be done. They’re a crucial part of the surrogacy process and it’s always better to have a valid and enforceable contract. 

Let’s take a moment to examine why a surrogacy contract is so important: 

  • They protect the surrogate and intended parents. 
  • Pregnancy termination and selective reduction will be explicitly covered in the contract to avoid potential conflict. 
  • Since no two surrogacy journeys are exactly the same, it can be drafted to match a particular situation. 
  • Each party has separate legal representation to avoid potential conflicts of interest. 
  • A well-drafted surrogacy contract covers all the what-if scenarios, effectively acting as a roadmap to the whole surrogacy journey. 

 

Surrogacy contracts are critical! And any proper surrogacy contract should explicitly cover expectations regarding pregnancy termination and selective reduction. If one party tries to terminate the pregnancy for non-health related reasons against the wishes of the other party, then they will be in breach of the contract. This can have all kinds of financial implications for the offending party. 

Thankfully, the surrogacy agency can help draft the best possible contract for all parties involved.  

What Is Surrogacy By Faith’s position on pregnancy termination? 

At Surrogacy by Faith we are truly doing God’s work and we are driven by our Christian faith. As a result, we do not support pregnancy termination and will ensure that any surrogate that the intended parents choose will share those same values. For example, let us consider scriptures: No doubt about it: children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a divine reward. (Psams 127: 3-4) 

We understand the intricacy and miracle of bringing a new life into this world and we believe that every life is sacred. We are fully dedicated to helping grow families by the grace of God and in accordance with this teachings. Our hearts are in this for a loving reason, not a business one. 

if you’re considering surrogacy, always choose to go with a surrogacy agency – this will make the surrogacy journey more fulfilling, less stressful, and more successful for all parties. However, it’s usually best to choose an agency that shares your values. Surrogacy by Faith is the kind of surrogacy agency that has a distinct set of principles that determine how we operate and how we assist both intended parents and surrogates through the journey. 

If you’re hoping to become a parent, please complete our initial Inquiry Form. We will answer any questions you might have and if you wish to proceed, we’ll start looking for the angel that will carry your child. If you’re looking to become a surrogate, make sure you fill out our surrogate inquiry form

 

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