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How the History of Surrogacy Changed Over the Years

Humanity has known surrogacy since biblical times. One of the first mentions is the story of Sarah and Abraham from the Book of Genesis. The spouses could not conceive a child and Sarah asked her servant Hagar to become the mother of the child of Abraham. It could be considered the first of traditional surrogate bearing because in this case, the woman uses her ovule to conceive a child, which she later gives to its future parents.

About 30 years ago, surrogate motherhood was primarily just like that. This is how childless couples could experience the joy of parenthood. Both in terms of legislation and morality, this idea had many obstacles in its path, until the 20th century. Today, clinics like New Life use more advanced and completely legitimate methods of conceiving and further transfer of a child.

The Origin of Surrogacy Bearing

Active research of this field began in 1677, and the inventor of the microscope was the main reason for it. Lewengueck, who studied sperm in detail and discovered a sperm cell. It was established that the male sperm is a family, while the female uterus provides a favorable environment for the emergence of the fetus. Then, in the XVIII century, the famous Scottish surgeon and venereologist John Hunter decided to fight infertility with a syringe and the sperm of his wife. This is how the first successful artificial insemination in the history of surrogate motherhood was accomplished. 

The First Traditional Cases in Surrogacy History

The first official case of surrogate maternity is considered to be the instance of 1980 when 37-year-old Elizabeth Kane from the State of Illinois agreed to bear a child for a foreign couple for a monetary reward. The young couple could not conceive a baby due to the gynecological disease of the wife, so they entered into a contract with Elizabeth for the induced fertilization of the sperm of the husband.

History of Surrogacy Changed Over the Years

“The Case Of Baby M” that changed the history of surrogacy forever

In 1984-1986 the famous “The Case Of Baby M“, a typical example of surrogate parenthood, took place. In 1984, the spouses Betsy and Bill Stern lost faith in the traditional conception of a baby. They decided to hire a surrogate for a monetary reward. They turned to Mary Beth Whitehead for help, promising to pay her 10,000 dollars for her service. Mary Beth’s eggs and Bill Stern’s sperm were used for fertilization. But after the baby was born, Whitehead refused to sign any documents and kept Melissa Stern (i.e. “Baby M”), so the struggle for a newborn girl began, which lasted until 1986 and played an important role in the further development of laws on surrogacy in the United States. 

Due to the fact that the surrogate maternity contract was not legal, the Supreme Court of New Jersey stood up for Mary Beth Whitehead, because she was the biological mother of the child. Bill Stern was also granted custody and visitation rights to see the girl. Experts argue that this case was a turning point in the surrogate maternal history — in addition to changes in legislation, there was a lot of medical research done as a result of the whole deal. This is how science came to gestational surrogate maternity.

Modern Surrogate Motherhood History

The very first official surrogate carriage program was introduced in South Africa in 1987. A woman suffering from infertility asked her mother to bear a child for her. As a result, a healthy baby was born. Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards from Great Britain are rightfully considered the discoverers of gestational carriage. In 1989, they were able to transfer embryos from their genetic parents to the uterus of their infertile sister. The experiment was a success that opened a new chapter in the history of surrogacy.

For the next 20 years, lawyers from different countries have been working hard to develop legislation that would regulate the process of the surrogate bearing. Their objective was to design a system that would:

  • protect the rights of the parents; 
  • protect a woman who acts as a gestational host;
  • legitimize the relationship of all parties (surrogate, egg donor, presumed parents);

Nowadays, the gestational nursery has become absolutely legal in most states of the USA and in many other states. In Ukraine, you can use the services of reputable clinics, such as New Life.

According to studies, in the period from 1999 to 2013, 18,400 babies were born thanks to gestational nurturing. It is especially interesting that 9,819 (53.4%) children are twins, triplets or quadruplets. This suggests that surrogate motherhood is going to continue being studied in the following years.

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