As we step into a post-Roe world, medical professionals and surrogates are working to change policies surrounding the procedure in case pregnancy care is taken away. Already there has been an incident with a 27-year-old gestational surrogate in Idaho. The woman was carrying the fetus for another man living abroad but recently found out there were complications that could affect not only the baby’s health but hers. She was told the fetus would not live to term and she would be in serious trouble, but that didn’t stop her Idaho medical provider from denying her treatment.
There had been counseling and an agreement by the father to terminate the pregnancy, but her medical provider stated the ongoing legal case with the state to stop the forthcoming abortion ban would outlaw the procedure. “This could have been a very simple, private matter, taken care of in her hometown with her own doctors and support system,” said Dawn Baker, founder of the US Surrogacy agency to the New York Times. “Instead, it turned into a huge ordeal and one she’s still recovering from.”
It was not until two weeks later, that the woman found an Idaho-based hospital that agreed to perform the procedure but only because she had contracted a fever, sharp pains, and cramping. After the overturn of Roe V. Wade states like Idaho rushed to set bans and laws that would restrict abortion care. While some of these laws are being fought in courts and put on hold there are still many restrictions that make it difficult to access care.
Surrogates, LGBTQ couples, and couples with infertility issues are worried about the court’s decision to overturn the long-standing law will affect access to abortion and miscarriage care. While abortions are exceedingly rare during surrogate pregnancies, according to Kristen Hanson, co-founder of Simple Surrogacy, the sudden loss to access to care is frightening for couples and surrogates alike.
Hanson has stated that she performs 85 surrogate pregnancies a year in her office and in the 21 years she’s worked in the industry she only witnessed five abortions. However, agencies go into a heavy vetting process with the individuals to make sure everyone is on the same page in case of complications. This helps to match couples with surrogates whose views align.
Surrogacy agencies are fearful that the potential loss of miscarriage and abortion care could make it difficult for them to provide help to their clients. As of now, in some states, surrogacy agents may be prone to legal fines or prosecution if they decide to help carriers. In states like Texas and Oklahoma, any individual who assists in helping someone find access to an abortion can be fined up to $10,000. This puts the agency and the parents at risk if they pay for the procedure.
“As an agency, this means we can’t help surrogates terminate a pregnancy,” Ms. Hanson of Simple Surrogacy said to the New York Times. “We’re having to say to our surrogates, even before they are pregnant, ‘You have to book your own travel, get on your own plane, fly there, get it taken care of, and come back.’”
As a result of this fear, agencies have taken to adjusting some of their policies and how they approach the process. Before performing the procedure, some agencies are working to test the embryos for any chromosomal abnormalities and only insert one embryo at a time during an IVF cycle. Agencies are also working to make sure their carriers are as discreet as possible about the procedure, especially during the first few months of pregnancy.
“From a contract perspective, we’re now saying, ‘Hey, let’s just keep this on the down low for now,’” Ms. Hanson said to the New York Times. “If you go on Facebook and say, ‘My surrogate’s pregnant,’ and then all of a sudden she’s not, even if it’s the result of a natural miscarriage you don’t want an overzealous prosecutor to come after you.”
With many state bans going into effect, parents are seeking agencies and carriers in states that have more lenient laws. These people are turning to surrogacy because they have experienced miscarriages and infertility issues in the past. According to Dawn Baker of US Surrogacy, they know “all too well” the importance of access to miscarriage and abortion care.