Surrogacy: Canada - ’Surrogates offer sympathy, want cash’ By Tom Blackwell

Surrogacy: Canada - 'Surrogates offer sympathy, want cash'
Posted by: "Infertility Network" info@infertilitynetwork.org
Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:57 am (PST)
Surrogates offer sympathy, want cash
By Tom Blackwell, National Post. Feb 14/09

Why would someone carry a baby for a pair of complete strangers? One eastern Ontario woman offering herself up as a surrogate mother says she sympathizes deeply with infertile couples and admits, "I just love to be pregnant." In her online ad, the mother of three also asks for $18,000. The 39-year-old said in an interview she is close to signing a contract to be a surrogate for a U. S. couple, and said the money is just to cover her expenses. Meanwhile, she acknowledges that she will be taking advantage of taxpayer-funded prenatal care in Canada before giving birth to her export infant in the United States. "I've had my kids ... been there, done that," said Jenn, a fictitious name she uses online. "It's all great and dandy to have the kids -- it's the looking after them that's hard, especially when they become teenagers."

Jenn's advertisement on surromomsonline.com is just one of several from Canadians offering up eggs, embryos or their services as surrogate mothers, or parents trying to obtain the same. Others can be found even on popular classified- ad Web sites. It speaks to a surprisingly open trade in the raw ingredients of human reproduction, even though five-year-old federal legislation outlaws the buying and selling of eggs, sperm, embryos or the services of a surrogate mother.

"It's a concern, absolutely," said Dr. Roger Pierson, a Winnipeg fertility specialist and spokesman for the Canadian Andrology and Fertility Society. "It's happening overtly and these folks are not being censured in any way we can see." Clinics tell patients they must obtain eggs or sperm from altruistic donors, he said, and when they come back with a donor, both parties typically insist the transaction was noncommercial. "And you have to believe them."

Meanwhile, many clinics are informally facilitating a different sort of trade -- between affluent couples without viable eggs and couples with good eggs and not enough cash to afford in-vitro fertilization, charges Diane Allen, head of the Infertility Network, and an industry critic. The poorer couple donate half their eggs, and the other couple pays for their procedure, Ms. Allen said. She argues such swapping is not much different from an outright purchase.

Jenn said she has already tried out surrogate motherhood once, but the eggs supplied by the couple in neighbouring Quebec were not viable and she miscarried. Her prospective new clients live in a state that outlaws surrogacy, so she will give birth and have some pre-natal appointments in Maryland, a "surro-friendly" state, she said. About eight appointments will be in Ontario "under my Medicare card." As for her three teenage children, only the youngest, at 13, has a problem with the whole thing. "She hemmed and hawed about it, wasn't sure," Jenn said. "'Mom's having another baby, but it's not our's? Oh, OK, at least it won't scream in the middle of the night and wake us up.' "

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