Wednesday, April 13, 2005

21st Century Parent

The lead in that I clicked on for this article read “Surrogate mother of quintuplets declines payment.” When I saw that, the first thing I thought was “She was going to sell them?” I was expecting to read an article about a woman who was pregnant with quints and had been planning to put them up for adoption (because my mind totally ignored the word “surrogate”). Instead, I find an article about a woman who had planned to carry one child for a childless couple who found herself carrying five children for them.

My initial impression and the real situation sent my brain in an odd direction. What if you could carry babies from multiple couples at once? The biology of it seems off to me – someone’s immune response is bound to react to someone else. Plus, the chances of all zygotes becoming successful pregnancies is very low (otherwise, there would be a lot more of these kinds of pregnancies in the news than there already are). But it just puts a whole new spin on the phrase “baby factory”.

Then I got to thinking about surrogate mothers in general and the complicated definition of “parent” that modern technology is giving us. Will surrogate mothers become more and more common as time goes on? Would a career-minded woman who also wants to have children pay someone else to have her kid for her so she doesn’t have to miss as much work? And even if surrogate mothers are only used when the biological mother cannot physically carry the child, there are other problems.

Let’s say there’s a problem during the pregnancy and the surrogate’s life is put at risk by continuing the pregnancy. Do the future parents have the right to force her to continue? Now let’s say the pregnancy results in a healthy baby. There are some strong emotions that come from birthing a baby. Even if the child is not genetically hers, the surrogate mother may feel attached to it. And now you’re going to take the baby away from her at what is probably the peak of those emotions. Doesn’t sound healthy to me.

Now, let’s look at the maximum legal nightmare – a child with 6 parents. First, a set of parents who want to adopt the child. Next, the two genetic donors of the child. Then, a donated egg for the merged genetic material to live in (who’s mitochondrial DNA will become part of the child). And lastly, the surrogate mother who carries the child. Who has the most parental rights? There are now three biological parents, a birth mother, and two adoptive parents. What if one of the genetic parents or the surrogate decides that they want the baby? I can’t wait to see that headline. Welcome to the 21st century.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Now, let’s look at the maximum legal nightmare-a child with 6 parents."
You forgot to look further into the future. >>> Five years later... The adopting parents divorce, then remarry to different partners. Now the child has 2 step parents bringing the total to 8!

4/18/2005 10:36 PM  
Blogger SpakKadi said...

And then, we can do the whole "switched at birth" thing and potentially double the number of parents right there.

4/19/2005 5:26 PM  

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