Catherine Pearson of The Huffington Post recently wrote a comprehensive guide to the legal and medical ins and outs of artificial reproductive technology. For many couples who face infertility issues or are otherwise unable to reproduce, surrogacy allows for the creation of an embryo from the parents’ genes that may be carried by a genetic mother or a “gestational carrier”—that is, an individual who agrees to carry an embryo to term but is not a genetic parent of the child.
Most surrogacy agreements today are gestational. This means that a third party is brought in after extensive medical and psychological background screening to carry and give birth to the baby. While this process provides an invaluable opportunity to people who are otherwise unable to have children, it also adds several legal and medical challenges.
These medical challenges are obvious: the technology required to create an embryo for a surrogate is quite new. However, the legal challenges are more complex and range from preventing exploitation of the carrier to creating contingency plans in the case of miscarriage or other complications. Laws also vary from state to state regarding artificial reproductive technology, leading experts to say that there are only thirty states that are surrogacy safe. Individuals considering gestational surrogacy should consult an attorney before beginning this process.