Surrogates Need to Share Their Experiences
Gag orders in surrogacy contracts can scare surrogates from sharing their experiences or agencies, clinics, doctors, etc. This information potentially hurts surrogates by not allowing them to make a truly informed decision about who they should work with. In addition, intended parents don’t get a full picture of the situation. At it’s extreme surrogates are actually kept from IP.
We at Delivering Dreams believe in transparency. We want the best surrogates and encourage them to share their experiences. We want our IP’s to have close contact with their surrogate throughout the pregnancy and entire surrogacy journey.
If someone is hiding something, maybe there is something they need to hide…
Enjoy this article by Alison Motluk
To be clear, we’re not talking about splashing names and addresses and birth dates around in the press: Families deserve some basic privacy. Rather, we’re talking about the systematic muzzling of a surrogate. The woman I wrote about was instructed to tell no one but her immediate family and closest friends what she was up to and, even then, she was instructed to be careful not to disclose details “of any nature” about “activities contemplated or carried out.” Imagine if a husband silenced his pregnant wife, or a doctor silenced a patient in this way.
Confidentiality clauses like these are a danger to the surrogate but, perhaps more importantly, they are a threat to public policy. They should not be permitted. It seems to me that if you want to protect someone you have to know what you are protecting them from. Confidentiality clauses all but guarantee that we will never really know.
In the case I wrote about, the imposed silence could have cost the surrogate her life. Luckily for her, she did communicate with fellow surrogates about the high blood pressure and swelling she was experiencing. They told her to ignore what she was being told by the intended mother of the babies and to head straight to hospital. Requiring a pregnant woman to not talk about her pregnancy – her symptoms, her emotional concerns, her feelings about how she’s being treated during the process – is dangerous to her health. (The babies were delivered the next day, at 28 weeks and 5 days, and the surrogate spent 3 days in the ICU.)
One of the lawmakers’ biggest fears was that surrogates would not be able to part with the children they’d carried. In my experience working in this issue, many surrogates report they do not have great difficulty parting with the babies.
What I have found through my work and research is that surrogacies generally appear to unfold joyfully and without incident. To be honest, stories like these are pretty easy to write about, because when things go well, people toss confidentiality to the wind and go full-on public.
But there are dark stories too. Confidentiality clauses make those stories especially tricky to tell, so you seldom hear them told in any detail.
Sound public policy is based on accurate information. Gagging surrogates hinders the exposing of the facts and evidence. So how can we stop these overbearing confidentiality clauses? I can think of two ways.
One way would be to remind surrogates – through their lawyers primarily, but also through public campaigns, the media, and online chat groups – that they have the right to refuse confidentiality clauses. They can scratch them out of their contracts. (At least one surrogate, “Fern,” reported doing just that.) Contracts can be negotiated; they are not edicts. Surrogates (unlike, for example, freelance journalists, who also find egregious clauses in their contracts) are in the enviable position that they are in short supply and in high demand: they have real bargaining power. They need to know that, and to use that power.
A more straightforward route would be to just write directly into the AHRA that a surrogate cannot be compelled to conceal the details of her surrogacy. California law requires that gestational surrogates have dated contracts and that they receive independent legal advice. If we chose to, we could require those things, as well as an end to blanket confidentiality. Anyone interested in third-party reproduction would have to accept that the third party is a separate, autonomous person who has a right to tell her story.
From an article written by ALISON MOTLUK
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