Christine Olsson/TT
Credit: Christine Olsson/TT

Investigator: Keep ban on surrogacy

Petra: "It felt like they closed every door on us"
3:25 min

A government investigator is recommending that Swedish healthcare should not accommodate surrogacy arrangements, not even if the mother volunteers to carry a child without pay.

Swedish healthcare does not currently support arrangements in which a woman is asked to carry and give birth to a child that she will give away to others. But after a 2013 report from the Swedish National Council on Medical Ethics found that so-called "altruistic" surrogacy - in which no money changes hands - was ethically acceptable, the government ordered an investigation into some legal issues, among other things.

Eva Wendel Rosberg, the government's appointed investigator, has recommended that Sweden continue to ban surrogacy in large part because there is no way to ensure surrogate mothers are not being forced to carry and then give up babies.

"The most important reason we don't want to allow surrogacy in Sweden is the risk that women face pressure to become surrogate mothers. It's a big commitment and it involves risks to go through pregnancy and childbirth. We believe that even with a proper trial and strong support for women, it can never be ruled out that it was prompted by coercion," Wendel Rosberg told Swedish Television news.

Surrogacy can also, said Wendel Rosberg, result in "tragic" situations. Swedish law stipulates that a woman who carries and gives birth to a child becomes its legal mother. In order to respect her right to self-determination, said Wendel Rosberg, the surrogate should be able to change her mind and either abort the fetus or keep the baby after its born.

But "if it's the prospective parent's biological child, of course that could be very tragic for them," said Wendel Rosberg.

The investigation and Rosberg's recommendations are to be handed over to the Minister for Justice Morgan Johansson Wednesday.

"It felt like they closed every door for us," said Petra Ekenstierna, a 32-year-old woman from Trelleborg in southern Sweden, speaking with Radio Sweden.

In 2010 Petra was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She eventually underwent surgery and had her uterus removed. Petra was able to beat cancer, but she said she didn't consider children again until her two sisters volunteered for either surrogacy or uterus transplantation, an experimental procedure that resulted in the first successful birth in Sweden in 2014.

Petra said that her ovaries were being kept at a hospital in Malmö. She said if Swedish healthcare providers don't support surrogacy, she and her husband would need to pursue options in another country, which could be very expensive.

"They have our future in our hands," said Petra.

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