Religion is related to humanity, as it is the cultural system that depicts social organization, behavioral practice, and ethics from a global perspective. Our religious outlook, supported by molecular and genetic science has already accepted that the instinct of parenthood is a physiological phenomenon of the whole animal kingdom, including human beings.
Reproduction is a natural biological process for every animal species to propagate parental genetic trait to the next generation.
But, unfortunately, some reproductive functional deficit can restrict the natural propagation of genetic trait and the outcome is clinically termed as infertility.
Advancement of medical science offers several reproduction techniques to overcome the infertility issues. Surrogacy is a type of assisted reproduction technique, derived from a Latin term “Surrogates”, which means a substitute.
Surrogacy opts when an infertile couple is unable to carry and deliver a baby due to physical or mental challenges. In surrogacy, a woman gets pregnant with an intention to deliver a child to another person or couple.
An integration of medical science advancement, social acceptance, availability of clinical service and individual’s personal willingness make surrogacy realistic.
The first traditional surrogacy was described in the Old Testament of the Bible, which was happened almost 2000 years BC.
There are two types of surrogacy mainly practiced all over the globe, i.e. traditional and gestational. The traditional surrogacy is scientifically explained as the artificial process by which the sperm of the intended father is inseminated to the surrogate mother.
In this case, the surrogate mother is a genetic parent of the offspring, as her eggs are used for fertilization. Whereas, in-vitro fertilization process is utilized in gestational surrogacy to generate an embryo of the intended parents or by using donor’s sperm or oocyte.
It is then implanted to surrogate’s uterus. In gestational surrogacy, there is no genetic connection between offspring and surrogate, only women who carry the fetus has a role as a gestational carrier. Clinically, these two types of surrogacy arrangements are usually practiced, which include Altruistic surrogacy and Commercial surrogacy.
- Altruistic surrogacy: In this arrangement, only necessary medical expenses for pregnancy is accepted. Neither financial involvement nor the relinquishment deed is involved in between the parents of the child and the surrogate mother.
- Commercial surrogacy: In this arrangement, a lump-sum amount of financial payment has to be done to the surrogate mother along with necessary medical expenses.
In the scientific perspective, surrogacy is a systemic medical technique applied to resolve the social concern in a dignified way.
In clinical practice, surrogacy is considered as a medical treatment of infertility like any other remedial treatments prescribed to cure different health disorders.
Usually, the religion of surrogate does not create any matter to the couple who opt for surrogacy because the offspring belongs to the same parental genetic trait.
In 2012, the Pew Research Center reported that about 84% of people in the world belong to one of the five largest religions, which are Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or folk religion.
The attitudes towards the assistive reproductive technique (ART) is highly influenced by religion. Some religions totally accept this, while some totally reject these techniques.
There is a continuous debate on the acceptance and advancement of ART among communities, countries, and people.
Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Shi’a Islam completely accepted the assistive reproductive techniques including surrogacy, gamete donation, and foetal reduction along with intrauterine insemination (IUI), in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).
Whereas, surrogacy is a concern for Sunni Islam, however, they accept other assistive reproductive techniques. Protestants, Anglicans, and Coptic allow only IUI and IVF, but other techniques are not accepted. Orthodox reject all the assistive reproductive techniques except IUI.
But Catholic does not allow any method of ART. Therefore, religions play a major role in the social acceptance of surrogacy.
Not only religion, but some country like China and Japan accepted IUI, IVF, PGD, but does not allow other techniques. Recently, Japan allowed sperm donation, but not oocyte.
Ravi Sharma is the director at ARTbaby Global (ARThealthcare). And a successful pharmacist and a marketer. He loves to write about IVF, Surrogacy and other ART (assisted reproductive technology) news, issues, and updates. He is a Pharmacy graduate (B. Pharm) and M.B.A (marketing).