Critics Exaggerate Risks and Minimize Benefits of Gestational Surrogacy

  • December 6, 2023
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Vanessa Brown Calder

Last weekend, conservative commentator Guy Benson and his partner announced the birth of their new son following the help of a gestational surrogate. A significant portion of the response in conservative circles both on Twitter and elsewhere was critical. The response mirrored the reaction to an announcement by conservative commentator Dave Rubin that he and his partner had conceived twins with the help of two surrogates last year.

Although gay couples’ use of gestational surrogacy is often the specific focus of conservative animus, certain conservative critics are also against surrogacy in its entirety. Their complaints about surrogacy alternately focus on the alleged exploitation of gestational carriers, risks to gestational carriers’ health and psychology, and risks to children’s health and psychological outcomes. Critics have also implied that surrogate pregnancies are frequently terminated, referencing unrepresentative news stories.

However, these criticisms exaggerate or are not in line with available facts. As described in the new study Defending Gestational Surrogacy: Addressing Misconceptions and Criticisms, common critiques of surrogacy do not reflect recent research or they indicate an unfamiliarity with the reality of surrogacy.

Despite suggestions to the contrary, existing evidence indicates that US surrogates are not exploited based on objective measures, nor do they feel exploited. Evidence indicates that gestational carriers voluntarily enter surrogacy contracts after being informed of risks, there is little evidence of post‐​surrogacy regret, gestational carriers are well compensated, and many would consider becoming surrogates again.

Moreover, although pregnancy and fertility treatment are not risk‐​free, medical outcomes for gestational carriers resemble the general population of women utilizing IVF. Evidence indicates that both gestational carriers and resulting children experience predominantly positive long‐​term psychological outcomes and do well in the years following birth.

Suggestions that surrogacy results in frequent abortions may be the most off‐​base. Surrogate pregnancies are substantially less likely to be terminated than conventional pregnancies because they are planned rather than accidental, the product of significant time and financial investment, and frequently prescreened for major medical abnormalities.

Notably, in their quest to highlight the perceived harms of surrogacy, critics systematically minimize the substantial value of creating life. For most couples, surrogacy is the last stop on their journey after a hard‐​fought battle with infertility. Most children produced via surrogacy would not be alive without it.

It is puzzling and unfortunate that critics exaggerate the risks of gestational surrogacy while minimizing the undeniable benefits. For further details on surrogacy, read more here.