Surrogacy has been an integral part of human society for a much longer period as it is normally perceived. Plutarchos (ca 46-120 BC) has described in his work „Parallel lives“ a story about Stratonice, who was unable to carry children for her man Deiotarus and allowed him to conceive a child with his most beautiful concubine. Deiotarus, enthralled by such a sacrifice, allowed her to choose the most befitting one.
Times, though, they are a changin, and today in countries, where surrogacy is officially allowed and is a method for infertility treatment besides IVF, the surrogate mother can be chosen from an electronc database. The times have changed, but the question regarding ethics about recruiting a woman for the happiness of another one is still relevant. The relevant media coverage unfortunately tends to fill the necessary debate with comparisons such as „baby factories“ or „womb rental“. Although the openly available stistics regarding the education and social status of the wannabe surrogate mothers is somewhat limited for understandable reasons, it is unreasonable to presume that none of the ladies were going through the process of being a surrogate mother purely due to kindness or a unselfish wish to help.
In the words of Olga Patrina, a 33 year old woman from Russia, a mother of three who has also been a surrogate mothe for four children in addition: „It’s easier to give birth than pay a mortgage!“ So although for the first time she was a surrogate mother due to financial reasons, the other times took place to help give birth to babies of her acquintances and to give them the possibility to experience the joy of being a parent. Now, when the financial reasons are not on the foreground, Olga is the manager of a surrogacy and donation centre, she is planning to be a surrogate mother for her friend who has not been able to have children for 10 years now. It is perfectly understandable, that the viewpoints on the matter can vary, but it should be agreeable, that in this case the surrogate mother is knowingly going through the process. In addition, there are countries where primarily the rights of the surrogate mother are well protected. For example, the new family in England must acquire a written agreement (parental order) from the surrogate mother after the birth, to be able to adopt the baby. This is also a good example that surrogacy is not just a source of income in third world countries, but a usable method for infertility treatment in more developed countries. Such instances are thorougly regulated by law and pplicable only for medical reasons and are not allowed to be performed under commercial situations.
Infertility is an increasing problem in Estonia and specifically in Western-Europe. Rarely one can find somebody such as Mariam Nabatanzi Babirye from Uganda – a mother of 38 children. More than 10% of women face some sort of an infertility issue, according to the data from World Health Organization – considered are women who are in a long term relationship and have not been able to get pregnant throughout 5 years or more. Well known infertility procedures are not suitable for certain medical conditions, e.g the uterus has been removed for any reasons. In such cases, surrogacy may be the only solution to become a mother. Because surrogacy is legally not allowed in Estonia, the only solution for Estonian women in such cases is to visit another country, where the procedure is legally allowed. Up until 2016, India was referred to as a „Mecca“ for surrogacy, but now surrogacy is only allowed for the citizens of India. Alternatives are also USA or Georgia, where surrogacy is legislatively regulated for years (accordingly since 1980 and 1997). Their culture is very tolerant regarding procedures and surrgacy.
Until the discussion regarding surrogacy doesn’t evolve in Estonia, the women facing such a problem will keep finding solutions – such as surrogacy abroad, believing that their anamnesis should’t limit their possibilities for luck.