Nancy Block RN, Vice President of International and Major Client Relations for Fertility SOURCE Companies, writes…
In the last few months I’ve noticed a trend in potential surrogates’ decisions regarding termination when completing their applications. These young women seem to prefer not to terminate a pregnancy for foetal anomalies such as Down’s Syndrome or other chromosomally abnormal conditions.
The medical community knows there can be multiple anomalies that cannot be tested for and there is a high rate of false positive evaluations, despite the rigorous procedures one most go through. That being said, when faced with a life-altering decision, even if discussed and agreed ahead of time, minds can change. Many individuals and couples are choosing to test their embryos for chromosomal abnormalities and one such evaluation can be for Down’s. There are a few cells taken from an embryo and analysed by just a few qualified laboratories. The fees are nearly £3,500 ($5,500) for the screening to be done, none of which insurance is likely to pay for, so out of pocket expense adds up to a great deal of money.
The procedure is done carefully and waiting for the results can be a nail-biting time. It is not uncommon to have some abnormal embryos even in the very young and healthy population. No test is 100% accurate but this one is not that far off. So when a surrogate mother is working with an individual or couple, and the group fi nds out there is an abnormality, it is likely to be a tough road ahead, but answers can be found.
We follow the guidelines and have each surrogate mother and intended parent questioned about their wishes. Each surrogate mother and her husband/partner should have an in-person psychological evaluation prior to any cycle. Most intended parents will also be required to have a psychological consultation as well. They should all absolutely be on the same page and matches should never be made between couples and surrogates who are not in sync with each other.
After looking at applications, Facebook pages dedicated to surrogacy and other social media platforms, it seems as if more are opting NOT to terminate for Down’s-like conditions.
There are understandable reasons for these decisions, but it’s worth considering the long term implications of these choices.
When a child is born with life-altering care needs, the parents won’t always be young. Many of those children are so well cared for they are, living a normal life span, yet parents may get to an age where they cannot provide a suitable environment for their child. Decisions will need to be made about a change in living situation. Many of these adult children will outlive their parents and therefore, must be appointed a guardian, because that responsibility can be more than overwhelming for their siblings or other relatives. At that time, there may be a need to transfer care to the state if those individuals are unable to care for their relative.
When a child is born with life-altering care needs, the parents won’t always be young. Many of those children are so well cared for they are, living a normal life span, yet parents may get to an age where they cannot provide a suitable environment for their child.
As many know we cannot rely on each state to provide the best alternative to a home environment for children.
State funding isn’t enough to help – here in the US they keep reducing key funding for those with disabilities or other special needs while the costs of care continue to increase. However, I know some of you are thinking ‘but it’s a life,’ and you’re right. But do we think about the babies that are born and realise they become adults all too quickly and we must account for their long-term care? No, of course not.
I know this is a very personal and highly emotional topic, but it is important to raise awareness of these very difficult decisions. These matches must be made carefully after full disclosure and transparency of each party’s wishes. No surrogate and her support system should compromise their beliefs just to make a match, and intended parents should not feel as if they have no decision-making capabilities with their child.
The debate will continue and there are no concrete answers. Instead, each decision must be made with the surrogate, the intended parents and the child at the forefront. If done properly and with all factors considered, more often than not, the decision reached will be the correct one.