NewsCenter Extra: Controversy Surrounding Surrogacy - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

NewsCenter Extra: Controversy Surrounding Surrogacy

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Controversy surrounds various elements of reproduction, but people are traveling from all over the world to the United States for a method of family expansion that certainly isn't immune to conflict: surrogacy.

A Minnesota attorney who works with people from all over the world hopes to see legislation added to the state's law books that would help to regulate the process of surrogacy as it becomes a more desirable options for those who can't carry their own children.

Few regulations and laws are in place to govern surrogacy. Many states don't take a stance on the matter, Michigan outlaws it altogether.

Family Law Attorney and Director of the International Assisted Reproduction Center Steve Snyder says, "I think society is accepting surrogacy, day-by-day, more and more."

Celebrities like Elton John, Guiliana and Bill Rancic, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Nicole Kidman... the list goes on... have all turned to a carrier to welcome their children. Opponents often call it baby-selling... Snyder answers back.

Snyder defends his position saying, "You can't buy something that's already yours. In other words, when a couple uses a surrogate the husband provides his sperm frequently, the woman provides her egg and they create an embryo. That embryo is stored. That embryo is their genetics, it's their child, it belongs to them."

Snyder says he hopes that in the future, legislation will protect everyone involved saying, "to make sure proper screening and education of participants takes place and that the process becomes predicable and reliable as to outcome. So people aren't under the cloud of uncertainty as they enter and exit the process."

At Snyder's practice, it's an in-depth process for both parties.

He explains, "The number of women in the universe is here. The number that want to be surrogates is here. The number that after you screen them for healthy pregnancy and psychological stability, clear criminal background checks, etc. is here."

Intended parents are examined to determine their likelyhood of not following through and surrogates are screened prior to pregnancy about their intentions.

Snyder says, "To make sure that their primary emphasis or a strong part of their motivation is altruism, meaning they really have a strong desire because they have their own children, they know the value of a family and they know probably through relatives or friends the difficulty of infertility."

Because surrogacy isn't reliably tracked it's difficult to know how many are taking place, what the end results are, etc. Estimates indicate that through 2002 there were as many as 15,000 cases. Only 89 of them resulted in some sort of conflict.

He says, "It wasn't the surrogates wanting to change their mind, 62 of them were actually parents that didn't want to follow through on the contract because they lost their jobs, they got divorced, they went bankrupt, the child was handicapped. So the insecurity in the process really lies more with intended parents than with carriers."

He says while there's still conflict on the issue... many aspects of reproduction are debatable... from birth control to abortion.

Snyder says, "We've had artificial insemination for decades, which allows for the treatment of male infertility and all surrogacy is is the treatment of female infertility."

At one point, a bill was passed by the House and Senate that would have added the language but it was vetoed by former governor Tim Pawlenty.

It's certainly not a black-and-white issue, many still maintain it's an unethical practice.

We reached out to some of those against the legislation like Senator Warren Limmer but they did not respond.

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