Psychological implications of Traditional vs. Gestational Surrogacy

Write an essay exploring an aspect of surrogacy that interests you.  Given the complexities of this topic, there are many options.  I will suggest a few here or you can pick a topic of your choice.  You can also contact me to discuss possible topics.


Suggested topics:


· Psychological implications of Traditional vs. Gestational Surrogacy


· Psychological issues inherent in known surrogacy (using a family member or a friend)


· Psychological implications of altruistic vs. commercial surrogacy


· An essay exploring the psychological aspects of legal cases (such as the Baby M case) – although it can be another case that interests you


· Psychological implications of pregnancy termination or selective reduction in surrogacy (selective reduction is when there is a multiple pregnancy and either the babies won’t all survive unless one or more is terminated or there is a fetal anomaly and the doctor recommends termination of one or more fetuses). 


· Aspects of counseling in surrogacy 


· International surrogacy (you may focus on practices in a particular country)


This essay will require at least 3 peer reviewed articles along with at least 2 other sources (book, media).  You may write your essay on one of these topics as it pertains to surrogates or to intended parents – or both.  Your paper should educate the reader as to the psychological components of your topic.  What are the important points that a psychologist would use to help counsel and educate someone who is embarking on a surrogacy journey and encounters one of the issues you are writing about.  How do you present the research without taking a side or forming an opinion, but educating and counseling based on research so that you client can make the most well-informed decisions possible based on what they are facing?


On a separate page I want you to write a discussion post. If you want to discuss a case like the Baby M case, pick an aspect of the case that interests you and generate a discussion around that with facts from the case or laws that changed or legal precedent that was set.  Don’t just react to it and post your opinion.  This is a complex topic and I want you to have a well-informed discussion that will deepen your understanding of the psychological complexities inherent in this area of reproductive psychology. Discussion post should be one to two paragraphs.


Baby M:


Surrogacy remains controversial for a number of reasons and there are many ethical considerations to surrogacy.  Traditional surrogacy is the most controversial.  This is due, in large part, to the case of Baby M, which was the first surrogacy custody dispute in the US.  It received international attention and impacted laws moving forward.  The surrogate in this case was a woman named Mary Beth Whitehead who was inseminated with the sperm of the intended father, William Stern.  Once she had the baby she did not want to relinquish the baby.  She took the baby and fled.  This case received tremendous media attention and paid surrogacy (also known as “commercial surrogacy”) was outlawed.  With the advent of IVF, women could now serve as gestational surrogates.  This means that the woman carrying the baby has no genetic connection to the baby she is carrying and therefore has no maternal rights to the child.  Surrogacy then became almost exclusively gestational and that accounts for about 99% of current surrogacy arrangements. Traditional surrogacy has become illegal in most states in the US, although it remains legal in a handful of states (including Pennsylvania).


Surrogacy has become a huge industry.  Controversy remains for a number of reasons.  Given that surrogacy remains illegal in some countries, couples will sometimes go to other countries to hire a surrogate.  This is sometimes called “Reproductive Tourism”.  One of the big controversies is that the thought is that women in poor countries are being exploited by serving as surrogates and wealthy couples are paying them to have children.


Some countries only allow “altruistic” surrogacy, which is where the surrogate does not receive financial compensation for being a surrogate.  In the US, commercial surrogacy is a big business.  Surrogacy is primary gestational surrogacy and agencies work to match potential gestational surrogates to couples.  Altruistic surrogacy occurs as well and is often found in known surrogacy arrangements where perhaps a family member is carrying for another family member.


Psychologists play a large role in surrogacy arrangements and this is the focus of our lesson.  We will overview the psychosocial aspects of surrogacy and the role of psychologists in surrogacy arrangements.  It is a larger topic than one lesson allows for, but if it is an area of interest, you could choose it for your final paper topic.


This video gives an excellent overview of surrogacy from the early controversy surrounding Baby M to a broad overview of current surrogacy practices.  It provides a comprehensive introduction to a complex issue.



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