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Military Wives’ Surrogacy Extends Beyond U.S., But What’s Their Motive?

March 18, 2009 12:02 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Surrogate motherhood offers financial rewards for American military wives, and helps infertile women and gay couples at home and abroad.

Surrogacy From California to France

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As surrogate motherhood becomes increasingly accepted across the United States, military wives have signed up in record numbers to help others have children.

According to the Los Angeles Times, military wife surrogacy, particularly among younger women, is quite popular in California where the practice is legal. These surrogate moms are helping infertile women, as well as gay couples, both in the U.S. and abroad.
 
A recent Los Angeles Times article profiled a San Diego-based surrogate mother who is carrying a child—or possibly twins—for a gay couple from France, where surrogacy is illegal.

Surrogacy agent Stephanie Caballero discussed the appeal of military wives with the Los Angeles Times. "Military wives, they don't cry, they don't complain at the drop of a hat. They're organized. They're efficient. They handle everything when their husbands are gone."

Despite previous criticism "for using their military insurance to make money as surrogates," and efforts by military officials "to end the practice," the Pentagon has been unable to remove medical coverage for surrogacy, reported the L.A. Times.

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, "the military's main medical provider, TRICARE, is one of the few health care insurers nationwide that doesn't ban coverage for surrogate pregnancies. By hiring a woman with TRICARE benefits, intended parents avoid paying about $20,000 for a standard surrogacy medical policy. They also dodge deductibles and co-payments." As a result, many military spouses command a higher fee than other surrogates.

Some military wives feel entitled to the benefits of TRICARE insurance. Surrogate mother Angel Howard, 32, told the L.A. Times, "If our husbands are putting their necks on the line in Iraq or wherever they happen to be at that point in time, we should be able to do what we want with our insurance."
Surrogacy agent Stephanie Caballero discussed the appeal of military wives with the Los Angeles Times. "Military wives, they don't cry, they don't complain at the drop of a hat. They're organized. They're efficient. They handle everything when their husbands are gone."

Despite previous criticism "for using their military insurance to make money as surrogates," and efforts by military officials "to end the practice," the Pentagon has been unable to remove medical coverage for surrogacy, reported the L.A. Times.

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, "the military's main medical provider, TRICARE, is one of the few health care insurers nationwide that doesn't ban coverage for surrogate pregnancies. By hiring a woman with TRICARE benefits, intended parents avoid paying about $20,000 for a standard surrogacy medical policy. They also dodge deductibles and co-payments." As a result, many military spouses command a higher fee than other surrogates.

Some military wives feel entitled to the benefits of TRICARE insurance. Surrogate mother Angel Howard, 32, told the L.A. Times, "If our husbands are putting their necks on the line in Iraq or wherever they happen to be at that point in time, we should be able to do what we want with our insurance."

Background: The rise of surrogate motherhood

According to Newsweek, surrogate mothers are increasingly embraced by society at large. "[I]n the past five years, four states—Texas, Illinois, Utah and Florida—have passed laws legalizing surrogacy, and Minnesota is considering doing the same. More than a dozen states, including Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and, most notably, California, specifically legalize and regulate the practice." In addition, several agencies have reported an increase in military wives applying to become surrogate mothers since the Iraq war began in 2003.

Opinion & Analysis: Who pays and who benefits?

Aside from putting pressure on the TRICARE system, some are concerned that military wives' decision to become surrogate mothers could inspire domestic violence and create new complications for military families already struggling with the stress of deployment, reports the blog A Soldier's Mind.

Reference: TRICARE policy on pregnancy and maternity

Related Topic: Support our military families

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