How the History of Surrogacy Changed Over the Years
When mentioning surrogacy and how long it has existed, many people think that this is a fairly new and radical process. To a certain extent, this is true. The practice that everyone knows as surrogacy has been around for about 30 years. However, the idea itself has a thousand-year history, and dates back to biblical times.
Feskov Human Reproductive Group has a 25-year history of successfully helping desperate people to have a baby using surrogate mother services.
The ancient history of surrogacy
The first mention of the process can be found in the Bible in the “Book of Genesis” in the story of Abraham and Sarah. The couple could not conceive their own child for a long time since Sarah was sterile. Then the wife turned to her servant Hagar to become a mother for Abraham's child. This is the first case of traditional surrogacy, when conception occurs with the participation of the surrogate's egg and the sperm of the alleged father. Despite the fact that Sarah had no biological relationship with the baby, she and Abraham declared to everyone that the child belonged to them.
Approximately 30 years ago, this method was the only way for prospective parents to have a baby with the help of assisted motherhood. The traditional type of process had many obstacles on its way up to the 20th century, both in terms of morality and legislation. Children born by this method were considered illegitimate in all countries. And such a pregnancy could only occur naturally, which was morally unacceptable for most married couples of that time.
Active research in this area began as early as 1677, when the founder of scientific microscopy Lavenhoek studied the semen in detail and discovered the sperm. It was found that the male sperm is the basis of the family, and the female uterus provides a favorable environment for the development of the fetus.
And in the 18th century, in 1790, the Scottish surgeon and venereologist John Hunter decided to fight infertility with a syringe and male sperm, when he carried out the first intrauterine insemination, an analogue of artificial insemination, for a woman with her husband's sperm, injecting genetic material directly into the uterus.
The first cases of traditional surrogacy
Let us consider the chronology of events in the field of assisted reproductive technologies:
- In 1976, Attorney Noel Keane entered into the first legal agreement regarding altruistic (no remuneration for surrogate) traditional surrogacy. Keane used this experience to create an Infertility Center, which will play a key role in the history of this ART technology in the United States;
- in 1978, the first child was born as a result of artificial insemination - IVF;
- in 1980, the first contract for compensated traditional surrogacy was concluded between foreign intended parents and surrogate Elizabeth Kane, 37 years old, from Illinois, USA. The woman received $ 10,000 for carrying and giving birth to a baby that was created using her egg and the sperm of the future father. Although she already had children and gave the child away for adoption, Kane was not prepared for the emotions of the experience and the challenges she faced after the birth of the baby. She subsequently regretted her decision to become a surrogate mother and even wrote a book about it;
- in 1982, the world saw the first baby born from a donor egg;
- in 1984-1986, the most famous case in the history of traditional surrogate motherhood took place - the “case of child M.” The spouses Bill and Betsy Stern agreed with the surrogate Mary Beth Whitehead for $ 10,000. For artificial insemination, a surrogate egg was used, which made her the biological mother of the child. After the birth of the baby Melissa Stern, Whitehead refused to sign the papers and give the baby to the intended parents. The fight for custody of the girl lasted 2 years. As a result of long litigation, the father received full guardianship, and the surrogate mother received the right to visit the child. This case became a turning point in the history of surrogacy, having played an important role in the development of thematic laws in the United States. It also showed that gestational surrogacy is more ethical and helps to avoid such legal conflicts.
Now, a gestational commercial type of service is legal in most US states, as well as in some countries, including Ukraine and Russia. However, intended parents from jurisdictions where the service is prohibited may travel overseas to legally have a child through this reproductive technology.
The very first surrogate bearing program was recorded in South Africa in 1987 when a woman suffering from infertility asked her mother to give birth to a child for her. As a result, a healthy baby was born.
Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards from Great Britain are considered to be the pioneers in gestational bearing. In 1989, they managed to transfer embryos from genetic parents, created as a result of IVF, to the sister of an infertile woman. The experiment was successful, opening a new chapter in the history of substitutionary motherhood.
In 1999, the technology took it a step further with the development of the SPAR Special Program, which allows an HIV-infected man to become the biological father of his children without transmitting the disease.
And in 2011, the surrogate record was broken when the oldest surrogate mother on the planet, who was 61, gave birth to her own grandson.
Over the next years, lawyers from various countries have been working on the development of acceptable legislation in this area in order to:
- Protect Intended Parents' Rights Fully
- Ensure the fulfillment of the rights and obligations of the surrogate
- Legitimize the relationship of all parties - parents, surrogate mother, egg donor.
According to statistics, this fast-growing, viable birth option produced 18,400 babies between 1999 and 2013. Among them, half are twins, triplets and quadruplets which indicates that research in this area will definitely be carried out.
As you can see, surrogacy has gone far from what it was until the end of the 20th century. Today, a combination of rapidly evolving medical innovations and the various types of substitutionary motherhood available are helping prospective parents to replenish families and future surrogate mothers to change the lives of others forever. Many successful women in the world of show business have already resorted to this method to have children. And the number of such cases is growing day by day.
The history of surrogacy is just beginning. And given its ever-changing nature, it makes sense to expect many new chapters to be added to this story in the future. And the specialists at Feskov Human Reproductive Group, Ukraine, are always ready to help childless couples find the happiness of fatherhood and motherhood!
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