Baby in someone else’s abdomen

Published 19/09/2019 in Health, Medicine

Baby in someone else’s abdomen

The FDP (Free Democratic Party of Germany) and many experts demand a relaxation of the surrogacy ban. Meanwhile, many couples seek help abroad – which causes legal problems.

Michael Gabel

Jessica and Armin Geissdörfer have tried everything – from artificial insemination to adoption. But in the end, it was a surrogate mother from Ukraine who helped a couple from a small community near Nuremberg to become parents of two children. A documentary prompted them to this idea, says Jessica Geissdörfer, who wrote a book about their experiences, Desired Children. More than 20,000 euros were paid by the couple to the agency for the entire process, from initial contact and in vitro fertilization to birth. But the 32-years-old woman has a clear conscience. After all, the surrogate mother received 11,000 euros. “In Ukraine, this is a great deal of money”.

Many German couples are desperate since they cannot have children in a natural way. And then they seek help using reproductive medicine. But here the state sets a narrow framework. Thus, neither egg donation nor surrogacy, that is, the lease of one’s own uterus for someone else’s fertilized egg, is allowed in Germany.

FDP wants to change this and also requires the limited possibility of surrogacy along with the possibility of allowing donation of eggs and embryos. This party’s demand corresponds to opinion of experts from the German Ethics Commission, who also want liberalization of the law, since other countries have more generously settled surrogacy than federal republic. For example, in the direction of Ukraine, real medical reproductive tourism has developed. There are no official data, but according to assumptions, up to several thousand children are born annually for German customers abroad by surrogate mothers.

But this brings significant legal problems. Thus, the legal mother is always the mother in whose body the child grew. With a few exceptions, termination of parental rights, which surrogate mothers immediately renounce after a child’s birth, changes nothing. In order for the baby to travel outside the country, the surrogate mother calls her customer the father, regardless of whether his or donor sperm was used at conception. And in the homeland, the “mother of the baby” will face a long bureaucratic fuss, before she will have the right to adopt a child at best. But meanwhile, she remains only a stepmother.

The situation with children looks even more complicated. With age, children will have questions regarding their birth and origin, and it is likely that this information will be unpleasant. Looking at the birth certificate, they immediately notice that “something is wrong” with their origin. Therefore, the union of state employees of the vital records office proposes to amend the law. “If a couple cannot have a child, then the possibility of surrogacy in Germany shall be completely acceptable and permissible for it”, says the union president Jürgen Rast. National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina also insists on reform. First of all, there is a need to regulate the legal status of a child, the explanatory note indicates.

At the moment, artificial insemination of surrogate mothers in Germany is prohibited. Doctors, who, despite everything, violate the law, may be jailed for up to 3 years. Consequently, those who recommend surrogate mothers and those who openly search for them or who offer themselves for rent are subject to the same punishment. FDP party legal adviser Catherine Helling-Plar made an attempt to change the situation. She insists on allowing “narrowly targeted non-commercial surrogacy”, where friends or relatives will be involved.

The FDP party can hardly count on the support of the coalition. Although the spokeswoman for the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) for health Sabina Dittmar points out “the need for reform to address significant legal uncertainty”. She requires clear rules on surrogacy, such as parental responsibility, child-support payments and citizenship, the newspaper said. However, she does not consider limited surrogacy as a way out of the situation. Both the Left and the Greens adhere to similar views. “Women should not be pressured or forced to do so because of their social status”, – Catherine Werner says, a family expert from the Left faction. The leftist health care expert Kirsten Kappert-Gonter nevertheless requires “clearer rules for children born by surrogate mothers abroad”.
Nonetheless, the Geissdörfer family overcame most bureaucratic obstacles. Once, as Jessica says, they will certainly tell their two-year-old twins about their origin: “You grew up in someone else’s abdomen. But despite this, we are your parents”. And it will sound quite normal.


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2 CommentsAdd yours

  • Gemma - 22/12/2019 Reply

    I don’t understand why some government has a ban on surrogacy or egg donation services. If the woman wants to be involved in commercial surrogacy it is up to her. I don’t see smth criminal in the treatment like surrogacy. Sometimes it can be the last way for having fur family. I am close to the person who can`t deliver a baby. And it is my sister who can`t have children. Medically, she can`t carry to term and give birth to a child. And the surrogacy is the only way for them to have children. Her husband and she started to look through a list of clinics abroad. It’s because we also have a ban on surrogacy in our country. But they haven’t expected that this procedure costs a huge amount of money. Then they paid attention to Ukrainian surrogate motherhood clinics. They have already found a clinic where surrogacy cost around 40,000€ or so. Next month they are going to travel to Ukrainian and get a free consultation from Ukrainian experts. Hope that everything will be fine because they are dreaming about babies.

  • Daisy - 22/12/2019 Reply

    Our daughter is also a product of the surrogate motherhood program. Before getting our lovely princess we had been dealing with infertility over 7 years. It seems that we tried everything before using surrogacy – pills, Clomid, IVF and so on. But nothing worked and pregnancy didn’t appear (( Also, we tried to succeed with the adoption as well. But we were refused to take a kid by the child service. That’s why surrogacy was the last chance for me and my husband to become parents. Honestly, we haven`t expected to receive high-skilled reproductive treatment as we had the program in Ukraine. Our Ukrainian surrogate mother Marina is an unbelievable young girl. We are really grateful for our daughter. I believe that Ukraine in the second motherland for our baby and Marina her second mum. Thus we decided that we will tell the truth to our daughter when she will be more adult. Parents must be honest with their children. “Once, as Jessica says, they will certainly tell their two-year-old twins about their origin: “You grew up in someone else’s abdomen. But despite this, we are your parents” I support such decision and think it’s correct.

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