• Sweden's news in English

'Keeping surrogacy in the family risks being messy'

27 Mar 2013, 10:23

Published: 27 Mar 2013 10:23 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

My husband and I became parents five months ago when we welcomed Daisy to the world. She was born in India, with the help of a surrogate. Personally, I think Sweden would do well to follow the new recommendation by the Medical Ethics Council (Statens medicinsk-etiska råd, Smer).

The report, however, is already a bit outdated.

First of all, about 25 children are born annually to Swedish parents using a surrogate abroad. This practice does not in any way break Sweden's laws.

Problems can arise when it's time to take the child home. They risk affecting the child directly and indirectly. It can take time, for example, for Swedish authorities to recognize the parent, thus delaying payments from the Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) that administers child benefits and parental leave.

In certain Swedish municipalities, this process can take a very long time, which is in direct breach of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children. All cases that involve children should be dealt with swiftly. We at the surrogate parent support network Surrogat.nu know of one case in Malmö where it has taken more than six months to register the father of a child born through surrogacy.

There are also further legal complications to the current situation. According to the letter of the law, the woman who carries a child is the legal mother, which means that if you have a child that is biologically yours through a surrogate you are not considered the parent. The outdated law creates problems for would-be parents in Sweden today.

Imagine, for example, a Swedish couple who travel to India. Let's say that she has viable eggs but has lost her womb due to a medical condition, while her husband’s sperm are of good quality. They go through IVF and implant the embryo in the uterus of a surrogate, a married Indian woman.

When that child is born, it is the surrogate and her husband who are the parents according to Swedish law, while the Swedish couple are the parents according to Indian law.

SEE ALSO: 'Lift Swedish ban on surrogate motherhood'

This leaves the child in legal no-man's land. In the Malmö case, the child has remained in legal limbo for more than six months.

The Smer report is a step in the right direction. Imagine not having to travel to India but being able to stay in Sweden. It’s fantastic!

Yet the report, which contains many caveats, still needs to be looked at properly, including the recommendation that the surrogate should be a relative or close family member. Let's say that a would-be parent doesn't have a close female friend. Should he or she not be able to turn to an altruistic surrogate?

Furthermore, who actually has a relative or close friend that they think would do this for free?

There can also be an emotional toll to having the surrogate be part of your extended family or circle of friends. Imagine a family gathering at Easter, where the surrogate has to interact with the child she carried, and where the parents might feel self-conscious about their parenting efforts.

I wouldn't want my sister to carry my child. Imagine Christmas Eve when she consciously or not ends up commenting on how I'm raising my child whom she carried. I think the Smer report caveat complicates the matter unnecessarily.

The Smer recommendation that no payment should take place is also, in my view, problematic.

SEE ALSO: 'Women's bodies aren't simply containers'

Personally, I think the woman should be paid properly. Maybe she wants to study and be pregnant at the same time, or perhaps she wants to stay at home with her own children while she is pregnant. Is it not reasonable for her to be remunerated?

Story continues below…

In broad strokes, I think it is fantastic that would-be parents in Sweden can stay in Sweden to have children with the help of a surrogate, if, of course, the government and parliament follows Smer’s recommendation and votes it through.

It will help many childless families in Sweden.

But I will stick to asking whether altruistic surrogacy is really the way to go? Let's see.

Whatever your stance in this debate, there are a few principals that no one is arguing about: that the woman must be able to decide herself what happens to her body and that no one is exploited. And that children born by surrogates get the best welcome possible. It should not take six months for a child to get a legal parent, regardless of the circumstances surrounding his or her birth.

All surveys and studies into the well-being of children born via surrogacy say the same thing – that child is incredibly loved.

Christoffer Lindén is father to five-month-old Daisy.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

07:13 March 28, 2013 by galexe
It is incredible how such a selfish and extremist point of view was allowed on The Local pages! According to the author, it is only Christoffer who matters and his desire to have a pet in the form of a human being. The Indian woman is the container, the paid servant. What happens if the Indian woman dies at the birth? Who pays for her life? Christoffer? At what price? Of an outsourced container?

Next year are elections. It is very important who we vote. Keep family as husband, wife and their naturally born children, as always has been!
18:56 April 2, 2013 by didneypurnsess
I think you're incredibly myopic in thinking that a woman who is a surrogate somehow feels some kind of ownership over a child. If I carried a child for my sister and her husband, how she raised that child is her business. I think I would have a deeper affection for the child than I would had I not given birth to it, but you are underestimating women by making sweeping generalizations about altruistic surrogacy. If my sister were unable to have a child of her own, or she were in a same-sex marriage, I would feel so honored and loved to be given that opportunity. I see it as a gift I can give to someone, and nothing more.

I do agree that laws should be changed, because I cannot imagine the pain of not being able to have a child with my partner, there we can agree. The laws in Sweden are archaic -- I don't see why it's so hard to develop a set of legislation built to protect both the surrogate and the biological parents. If they can do it elsewhere in the developed world, why not Sweden?

And galexe, you may feel a certain way about surrogacy, but you cannot enforce your own personal dogma or morals onto someone else. If you want that kind of legislation, move to the United States.
17:26 April 4, 2013 by Thinking
I agree with "didneypurnsess" that "you may feel a certain way about surrogacy, but you cannot enforce your own personal dogma or morals onto someone else"

Here, hiring one kind of human organ ('fallopian tube') is for producing child is legally okay, AND hiring/renting another kind of human organ ('Sorghastrom Endometrium') is NOT legally okay here.

To me they both fall in same classification: Renting/hiring/transacting for money of human organ. And I think either both should be legally stop OR both should legally allowed. One can not claim partial morality (of course some of the intellectuals have different take than me).

But probably its not about personal dogma but its about National dogma through legal measures.
Today's headlines
The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Watch this amazing footage of Sweden’s landscapes
A still from the aerial footage of Sweden. Photo: Nate Summer-Cook

The spectacular drone footage captures both Sweden's south and the opposite extreme, thousands of kilometres north.

Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT

A new study into the gender pay gap suggests Sweden still has some work to do.

Look familiar? Meet your jawbone's ancestor
Thank God for evolution, eh?

There's something fishy about the human jawbone – it has its origins in the placodermi, a jowly species of fish that lived 400 million years ago, Swedish and Chinese researchers say.

Isis claims unremarked arson attack in Malmö
The arson attack took place on Norra Grängesbergsgatan in Malmö. File photo: Emil Langvad/TT

An arson attack in Malmö that caused only minor damage and was barely reported in the media has been claimed by terror group Isis.

How to make autumnal Swedish apple cake
Photo: SwedishFood.com

This tasty cake is an autumn staple in Swedish cafés. Why not make it yourself!

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available