- A fertile
35-year-old business executive with three children hired another woman
to carry her fourth child because she did not want to jeopardise her career.
- The £43,000 procedure was organised by Conceptual
Options, a private clinic in California. It not only enabled the woman
to have her own fertilised egg implanted in a surrogate mother, but also
allowed her to prearrange the sex of the baby.
- "I want a daughter, but I don't want it to affect
my career," said the woman, who already has three sons aged five,
six and nine.
- An increasing number of women are "renting"
wombs for reasons of time pressure and vanity, with clinics in Britain
as well as in the United States being asked to provide the service.
- Successful businesswomen, actresses, athletes and models
are among those opting for "social surrogacy". They cite career
pressure, the pain of childbirth and the prospect of stretchmarks as the
main reasons for avoiding pregnancy.
- Theresa Erickson, a lawyer for Conceptual Options, said:
"It's not for us to judge why people do not want to carry a baby,
although I have turned people away. Women can just say, 'I need a surrogate',
and doctors won't force her to allow them to check her fertility."
- Paul Serhal, medical director at the Assisted Conception
Unit affiliated to University College Hospital London (UCL), said he was
recently approached by an actress in her thirties.
- "She was concerned about stretchmarks and wanted
a surrogate to carry a baby produced from her egg and her partner's sperm,"
Serhal said last week. "If she came back, I would ask the issues to
be considered by the hospital ethics committee."
- The Los Angeles-based Egg Donation and Surrogacy Programme
said that 5%-10% of surrogacy requests are for social rather than medical
reasons. It added that nearly half of those are from men who do not want
their wives to go through the physical endurance of pregnancy. Recent cases
- A Hollywood actress who hired a surrogate mother to carry
a baby created from her egg and her lover's sperm. The surrogate had to
sign a confidentiality agreement and, according to the clinic, "probably
did it for the money".
- A model who approached a clinic in the American state
of Georgia for a surrogate because she feared that a normal pregnancy would
lower her income while she carried the baby.
- An American university professor who approached lawyers
in Chicago to find out if she could have a social surrogacy. According
to one lawyer close to the case she was worried about losing her tenure
at the university if she became pregnant herself.
- Cases of healthy women using surrogate mothers for social
reasons are likely to anger campaigners for traditional families who believe
that advances in fertility treatment have already gone to far.
- Last week a clinic in America announced that it had offered
sex selection to nearly 200 couples for social reasons. The Genetics and
IVF Institute in Fairfax, Virginia, said patients chose the baby's sex
for reasons of "family balancing".
- Experts say it is only a matter of time before a child
is conceived in Britain using social surrogacy. The practice is not illegal
here, although the government does not encourage surrogacy. The health
department said last week that it supports the Warnock report of 1984
which described social surrogacy as "ethically unacceptable".
A spokesman said: "The government agrees that surrogacy is a last
resort in cases where there are compelling medical reasons to do so."
- However, undeterred by restrictive practices in this
country, British couples who can afford it are travelling to America
as "fertility tourists".
- Andrew Vorzimer, an attorney at Vorzimer, Masserman &
Chapman in Beverly Hills, said: "I have been approached by couples
from all over the world, including models, athletes and celebrities, for
vanity or employment reasons, but I have declined to help them."
- Many American clinics do refuse to offer the service,
arguing that it brings surrogacy services for reasons of infertility into
disrepute. Sherrie Smith, programme administrator for the Centre for Surrogate
Parenting and Egg Donation in Maryland, said: "If a woman is too busy
to carry the child, or doesn't like the physical appearance of pregnancy
and wants somebody to do that for her, she's probably too busy to be a
- Dr Peter Brinsden, medical director at Bourn Hall, the
world's first IVF clinic which offers the largest surrogacy programme in
Europe, said: "It is unacceptable to use assisted reproduction technology
such as IVF in surrogacy cases or to employ sex selection for social reasons.
The technology was developed for infertile couples. Responsible clinicians
and scientists need to stop the renegades and not condone social surrogacy."
- Others see nothing wrong in offering women social surrogacy
services, however. Professor Lori Andrews of Chicago-Kent College of Law
in America said: "Women are leading different lives today. They postpone
child-bearing, don't have a husband or choose alternative methods such
as surrogacy to avoid derailing their careers."
- The British Medical Association publishes guidelines
for doctors on surrogacy. "We are sceptical about social surrogacy.
Surrogacy is a serious step, fraught with emotional risk and legal pitfalls.
If natural childbirth is possible, it is infinitely preferred," it