Exploring the Origins of Surrogacy
Exactly 40 years ago, the world witnessed the birth of the first child born to a surrogate mother. Elizabeth Kane, 37, of Illinois, USA, carried him for an infertile woman with a blocked fallopian tube. After the delivery, Kane was paid her contractual fee. Elizabeth had three children of her own at the time of delivery.
When surrogacy started? Surrogacy in the Bible
Surrogacy has its roots in ancient history, with written records from as early as 3300 BCE mentioning the practice. Surrogacy is mentioned several times in the Bible. In the biblical book of Genesis (16:1-4), it tells the story of Sarah and Abraham. Sarah, being barren, offered up her maidservant Hagar to be a surrogate for Abraham, so that he could have a child.
Another example is found in the book of Ruth (Ruth 4:5-10), where Ruth agrees to be a surrogate for her deceased husband’s brother to provide a line of inheritance.
Other examples may be found in books such as Exodus, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. In each instance, surrogacy is seen to provide an heir to the family line and to fulfill God’s promise of descendants.
How it Goes. Modern Surrogacy
Scientific and technological advances have contributed to the search for new ways to solve the problem of infertility. Modern surrogacy became possible after the invention of artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization (IVF). This made it possible to get genetic material from genetic parents by further "replanting" it to carry and give birth to a child in a natural biological incubator, the surrogate's organism.
The pioneers of surrogacy in Great Britain were Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards. Embryos of genetic parents, obtained through in vitro fertilization, were transferred to the sister of an infertile woman, and she gave birth to a child in 1989.
The first case of a mother carrying a child instead of her infertile daughter was registered in South Africa in 1987.
By now surrogacy has become quite a common phenomenon. In particular, it has been used by celebrities such as: Michael Jackson (2002), Annie Leibovitz, Ricky Martin (2008, 2018), Sarah Jessica Parker (2009), Nicole Kidman (2010), Elton John (2010, 2013), Cristiano Ronaldo (2010, 2017).
Most states in the United States, South Africa, Ukraine, Georgia, and Kazakhstan allow surrogacy. Some jurisdictions allow only non-commercial surrogacy, e.g., Victoria, Australia, and some US states (New Hampshire, Virginia). In Europe, the laws concerning surrogacy vary greatly from country to country. In most countries, any form of surrogacy either commercial or non-commercial is strictly prohibited and can carry serious legal repercussions. Countries such as Austria, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, and Estonia all have laws in place that forbid any type of surrogacy activity. On the other hand, some European countries such as the UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, and the Czech Republic allow non-commercial surrogacy under certain conditions.
Surrogacy: The Joy of Parenthood for Everyone
Surrogacy has come a long way since its beginnings in ancient times. What began as a culturally accepted practice has evolved into a revolutionary fertility treatment, giving couples the opportunity to experience the joy of parenthood. The invention of surrogacy has been driven by a desire to give individuals and couples the ability to control their reproductive choices and to provide those struggling with infertility a chance to experience the joy of parenthood.