What it is
There are several couples where the woman, strictly for medical reasons, cannot carry a baby herself. These couples have the option of “borrowing” the uterus of a third woman (surrogate mother), who will accept without any conditions or financial benefits to carry and deliver the couple’s fertilised egg.
In scientific terms, “surrogate mother” or “borrowed uterus” means the case where a fertilised egg, foreign to a third woman (the surrogate) is transferred to her body.The fertilised egg will have come from:
- The genetic material of a childless couple that wishes to have a baby
- The sperm of a partner or husband of a woman who wishes to have a child and another woman’s egg
- The egg of a woman who wishes to have a child and a third donor’s sperm
- Third persons’ genetic material
In all cases, the surrogate mother is not allowed to carry her own fertilised egg. Therefore, genetically the child does not belong to the “surrogate”, i.e. the woman delivering it and it has no relation with her genes.
The process of “surrogate parenting” is a practice based purely on altruistic and selfless criteria.
When to apply it
Surrogate parenting is applied in couples having normal eggs and spermatozoa, but where the woman has no functional uterus or has uterine anomalies preventing pregnancy for medical reasons. Also, in cases where the woman has other medical problems, such as renal failure, cardiovascular diseases, hormonal disorders, continuous and heavy medication and increased risk for miscarriage from previous failed attempts.
The future surrogate mother undergoes medical tests and a thorough psychiatric evaluation. Accordingly, the health (both mental and physical) of the people aiming to have a child is checked.
The egg of the woman who wishes to have a child is fertilised using her partner’s sperm at the embryology laboratory and then it is “transferred” into the surrogate mother’s uterine. Therefore, it could be said that there is a “genetic” mother, i.e. the one providing her egg to be fertilised by the husband’s/partner’s sperm and the “birth mother”, i.e. the one carrying the embryo and delivering the former woman’s child.
In most cases, the surrogate mother is a relative or friend of the couple. The agreement on pregnancy by a third woman is concluded without any exchange. The following are not considered an exchange:
a) paying costs required to achieve pregnancy, gestation, delivery, and lochia,
b) any direct damage of the surrogate as a result of absenteeism, as well as fees employment fees lost due to absenteeism with a view to achieving pregnancy, gestation, delivery, and lochia.
Surrogate parenting is allowed under the terms specified in articles 1458 of the Civil Code and 8 of Law 3089/2002 and it has existed in Greece since 2005, when the relevant legislation was applied by the Ministry of Health. Law 3305 (Government Gazette No Α΄17 27.1.2005) on the Application of Medically Assisted Reproduction provides how to apply this practice with regard to where these interventions will take place, which techniques will be used, unit specifications etc.
Surrogate parenting is allowed by court judgement delivered prior to the transfer upon a request by the woman who wishes to have a child. The requirements to administer authorization is that the woman who wishes the child is unable to carry it herself, however, she is of childbearing potential, whereas the woman undertaking to carry it should be, in view of her health condition, suitable for pregnancy. The court must be presented with a written and without any exchanges agreement between the parties, i.e. the persons who wish to have the child and the woman to carry it, as well as the latter’s husband if she is married, under which other than their agreement to perform this action, they state that fertilised eggs implanted in the surrogate mother’s uterus will not belong to her. Finally, the woman who wishes the child (and submits the application) and the pregnant woman should reside in Greece.
Surrogate parenting is a form of IVF having success rates ranging from 30, 60, and 70%, depending on the problem and the individual case.