It’s no secret: The medical process of surrogacy is complicated. If you are considering carrying a child for someone else, you’ll need to be familiar with every aspect — the medical screenings you must undergo, the fertility medications you must take, the embryo transfer process you can expect.
If you want to be a surrogate, abortion and selective reduction of embryos must also be considered.
These medical procedures are relatively commonplace in the surrogacy process, but they can give prospective surrogates pause. Why are they used in gestational surrogacy? Do you get a say in this process? What should you know before you agree to such procedures?
We know this topic can be tricky to discuss. We encourage any prospective surrogate curious about selective reduction and termination to speak with a surrogacy professional or a fertility clinic for more information. Your level of comfort with these situations will ultimately be up to you — but, keep in mind, your preferences will likely impact how your surrogacy journey proceeds.
Keep reading to learn a bit more about being a surrogate mother, abortion and selective reduction.
Why is Selective Reduction and Termination An Important Topic in Surrogacy?
Admittedly, there are a lot of personal opinions about selective reduction and termination (otherwise known as abortion). But, if you’re thinking about starting the surrogacy process, you must try to view these procedures from a medical standpoint first and foremost.
In an ideal surrogacy, selective reduction or termination of embryos is unnecessary. An embryo implants safely into a surrogate’s uterus and begins to develop as it should. The continuation of the pregnancy holds no undue risk to the surrogate or the baby the embryo will become.
But, this isn’t always the case. Depending on their views, intended parents may choose to voluntarily reduce the number of embryos implanted into a surrogate’s uterus or even terminate the pregnancy entirely. Some reasons are:
- The embryo is not developing properly: Reproductive endocrinologists can know very quickly whether an embryo transfer will result in a successful birth. Even if an embryo was genetically tested before transfer, it may start to develop abnormally. As hard as it is, some intended parents may choose to terminate the pregnancy rather than wait for the heartbreak of a natural miscarriage later on.
- More than two embryos implant: Transferring multiple embryos to a woman’s uterus is becoming less likely, but it is still done. A doctor may implant more than one embryo, simply for the higher chances of success. If more embryos implant than the intended parents are comfortable with, they may choose to reduce one or more of the embryos — to reduce the risks of carrying multiples for the gestational carrier and increase the chance that a healthy baby will be born.
- A fetus has life-threatening disabilities or developmental issues: Even if an embryo passes genetic testing, genetic or congenital malformations can occur. Intended parents may make the tough decision to terminate a pregnancy if they are aware a fetus will not be able to survive on its own after birth. Other intended parents will choose to terminate for non-life-threatening conditions, but these terms will be decided upon in your surrogacy contract.
- A carrier’s life is in immediate danger: Sometimes, to save the life of a surrogate, abortion is the only option. Even if she has had healthy pregnancies in the past, she may develop a condition during her gestational pregnancy that puts her life at risk. Both parties may choose to terminate to protect her — and her own family waiting at home for her.
Remember, when it comes to surrogacy, all parties involved are working toward the best chances of success possible. In some situations, this involves selective reduction or termination of embryos. Before you become a surrogate, you must understand this — and thoroughly research to determine whether it is a procedure you are comfortable with.
Can I Be a Surrogate if Abortion Is Against My Beliefs?
Just because selective reduction and termination can occur in gestational surrogacy, the procedures aren’t necessary in every single journey. But, if you want to be a gestational carrier, you need to identify your level of comfort if these situations were to occur.
In your opinion, when is selective reduction and termination okay? Are they suitable in cases of life-threatening disability? What about when a child has a disorder that will result in special needs, such as Down syndrome or cerebral palsy?
Being against selective reduction and termination won’t automatically disqualify you from surrogacy — but it may make it more difficult to find intended parents who share your beliefs.
When you first apply to be a surrogate, your surrogacy professional will discuss with you in depth all of your preferences for surrogacy, including your thoughts on termination and selective reduction. These will play an important role in matching with intended parents; you will need to work with parents who share roughly the same ideals. The specifics of each situation will be discussed during the drafting of your contract.
If you are absolutely against selective reduction and termination (otherwise known as “no term”), you should be prepared to wait longer to find intended parents who share your views. As mentioned above, every intended parent wants the best chance at a healthy baby, and selective reduction and termination are sometimes necessary for improving those chances. Most intended parents will want a surrogate who is comfortable with these procedures in certain situations.
If you are interested in being a surrogate, abortion and selective reduction is not something you can ignore. But, you always have the right to choose the surrogacy journey that you want. For more information on how selective reduction and termination work in surrogacy, please contact a surrogacy professional today.