As defined by Wikipedia, Surrogacy or Surrogate Pregnancy is an arrangement where a woman agrees to become pregnant and deliver a child for a contracted party.
We usually take it to mean an arrangement where a ‘carrier’ agrees to carry a pregnancy to term after having been implanted with an embryo not genetically hers.
What is surrogate pregnancy?
There are two main types of surrogacy – one is the traditional kind, also known as the straight method of surrogacy, where the infertility of a woman means that another woman, the surrogate will supply the egg for actuating the pregnancy.
The surrogate is artificially impregnated using the sperm from the couple who wish to have a baby. So here, the genetic mother as well as the surrogate is the surrogate herself.
The other kind of surrogacy is called Gestational surrogacy or the host method of surrogate pregnancy. This is when a woman is not able to carry a pregnancy to term due to some reason other than infertility.
If for example she had to have her uterus removed due to some reason (infection etc) but still had the ovaries to produce eggs, those eggs could be used along with the sperm from her male partner to create an embryo which would then be transplanted in the uterus of the surrogate.
The surrogate would then carry the baby to term and deliver it for and to the genetic parents.
Why choose surrogate pregnancy?
Infertility of couples, who remain childless even after years of trying is the main reason why people opt for surrogacy. Those who want to see their own genes perpetuated rather than opting for an adoption, choose surrogacy. Many women, may be unable to have a healthy pregnancy, because it is a medically risky option for them, and so may choose surrogacy.
In some instances some couples may choose to go in for surrogacy in order not to have to undergo the pain of pregnancy and labor, preferring instead to have someone else undergo the pain and inconvenience for them.
Very often it is same sex couples who opt for surrogacy.
In a traditional surrogacy, the male of union is able to perpetuate his genes by contributing the sperm for producing the embryo. In a gestational surrogacy, both parents would have the satisfaction of seeing their own genes perpetuated by the mode of surrogacy.
Surrogate pregnancy could be commercial in nature or it could be altruistic.
A surrogacy could be undertaken for financial compensation wherein a female would carry a pregnancy to term at the behest of a couple desiring a child in which case it is called a commercial surrogacy. On the other hand, some instances of surrogacy may have no financial compensation paid to the surrogate.
Most typically this sort of surrogacy may be carried out by a female relative or very close family friend, though the intended parents would pick up the tab for all medical and incidental expenses even in this case.
Surrogacy is legal is all of North America and most of the developed world as well, however the laws that govern surrogate pregnancy may differ greatly.