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Surrogates + Military spouses – good/bad?

October 18, 2010

We’ve all seen or heard about this show, or this  article from Glamour Magazine about military spouses being hired as pregnancy surrogates.  This isn’t new, after all, even the Lifetime TV show Army Wives started off their first season with one of the Army Wives on the show being a surrogate, and I remember some other stories a couple of years ago.  I personally don’t think a lot of people  would be up in arms about it, if it wasn’t for one  huge spanner in the works.  Health Insurance.  Because Tricare is a federally funded program, questions are being raised about whether it should pay for the pregnancy health care;  it doesn’t pay for the in vitro fertilization for the surrogacy, but for prenatal health care and in some cases, delivery.  Now… here’s the question.  Is this a benefit we have earned, or is it the poor downtrodden taxpayer that is helping military spouses become rich.    Should a surrogacy pregnancy be seen as any different from a “regular” pregnancy.  Are military spouses taking unfair advantage of this benefit.

Personally – and this is just me talking here – I’m not sure HOW I feel about it!  I’m all in favour of a single payer health insurance plan, I’m tired of being told how grateful we are supposed to be to the taxpayers who are footing the bill for our health insurance as if we were standing on the corner with our hand out! BUTBUT If you are making money because of a medical condition – OK, stop screaming, pregnancy IS a medical condition, albeit a fantastic one, leads to new life etc etc etc –    IF you are making money from a medical condition, should any insurance foot the bill?  Shouldn’t the parents of this baby do what surrogate parents who hire NON military affiliated women to carry their child do, which is pay for the pregnancy, either by paying for an insurance policy or paying for the care outright?  I don’t think any other insurance company is going to pay for pregnancy coverage that isn’t for the baby of the insured.  So, why should our insurance company?  AND – I don’t know about you, but trying to get a GYN appointment from a military doctor, or from a doctor who takes Tricare – is an exercise in patience.  Since Tricare pays so little, some physicians only take a certain number of Tricare patients.  If this surrogate is taking a spot that another Tricare patient could use – is that fair?  YES, she is covered by Tricare, but is that pregnancy covered?  There is a difference.

All this is besides the point that a friend made, here. (she also wrote a letter to Glamour – says it SO well) That milspouses are seen as a great resource for baby carrying because we can’t get a job, or hold a job, because of being a military spouse.  Now it IS  harder for many spouses, moving etc.  and there are employers who won’t even look at a milspouse resume.  BUT. Are we going back to the days of “barefoot and pregnant” or is this a sensible way for someone to “use what they got”.  The slant being given  – that we cannot get any type of meaningful work to contribute monetarily to our families – well to me, that’s insulting.  There are spouses (hey, there ARE guy milspouses out there too!) who are able to have careers.  It’s harder, granted, when you are being moved from pillar to post and back again, when employers are reluctant to even look at your resume past the point of seeing “Fayetteville, Killeen, Ft. Carson, Ft. Leavenworth” and realizing that you ARE a milspouse.  But to shove us all into the same basket – no, having a baby is NOT the only way we can “contribute to society and do something useful”.

Weigh in.   Let us know what you think.


7 Comments leave one →
  1. Smurfette permalink
    October 18, 2010 8:28 am

    Thanks for doing this. I think the whole thing is really complicated. I don’t think surrogacy pregnancies should be covered by Tricare and as far as I can tell, Tricare says they aren’t. However, it seems a lot of people are taking advantage of the disconnect between delivery and putting a baby on their pg 2. I just hate the fact that this of all the things we do for people, this is what gets press.
    Thanks again for tackling this. I am still too miffed to quantify.

  2. October 18, 2010 9:25 am

    It’s a tough one. I think some families need the money as you stated but I think that if the baby isn’t the sponsors than it shouldn’t be covered, such as a dependent child’s prenatal and delivery shouldn’t be a Tricare issue or in cases of infidelity. I hadn’t considered surrogacy under the same umbrella, but I suppose it fits.

  3. October 18, 2010 12:49 pm

    As far as Tricare is concerned, I really do not think it should be covered. However, if someone is willing to be a surrogate, that is her business, her choice whether she is a military spouse or not. My worry is the potential for military spouses to be exploited as many surrogate mothers have been by shady companies who promise to foot the bill and then leave the expectant mother with thousands of dollars of medical bills. (Maria Hinojosa did a great feature on “wombs for rent” on PBS’s “Now” that documented how surrogate mothers are often exploited.)

    Another worry for me in this discussion, is how both women and men are increasingly valued/evaluated by their earning potential above any other ways that they may contribute to society/family. The underlying assumption is that the only “meaningful” work is work that makes money. There is an undercurrent of real hostility between women who do not work and women who do — it seems to cut both ways. And I’m just now navigating this weird territory as someone who stays at home with the child by day and works part-time teaching night school. And with my husband gone all of the time (even when he isn’t TDY/deployed, he is never home), even part-time employment is a strain and even part-time sometimes does not seem “worthy” enough. I think we need to redefine how we view productive and meaningful work, and as a feminist, I find that the remnants of second-wave feminism continue to haunt us when I see writers often falling back on an essentialist rhetoric of femininity. I hope that wasn’t too off-topic, but I do think these underlying assumptions are relevant in this discussion.

    • October 18, 2010 1:44 pm

      LeeAnne – go to the blog I link to – she talks allll about what is “worthy”, and does it so much better than I ever could. I got incoherent when I reached that point.

      • October 18, 2010 9:21 pm

        I did not mean to imply that the essentialist language was being used by either you or the writer of the linked letter. No! You did just fine, LAW. I meant that certain segments of the popular media (like Glamour magazine) fall back on such language because it denies the complexity of women’s (and men’s) roles in modern society. Thank you for your post and bringing this discussion forward. I really hope it creates an honest and productive discussion for how we can be advocates for each other.

        • October 18, 2010 9:26 pm

          Oh I meant that by the time I got to the whole “women are only good for the bearing of children” I couldn’t write about it. The slant of both pieces was so demeaning to the military spouses I know… I wanted to reach out and smack the writers upside the head!

  4. CPT Tammy Bolds permalink
    January 6, 2011 1:16 pm

    I am the Chief of Patient Administration at a military hospital. If Tricare is aware of a surrogacy, they will try to recup their money. The problem is that most mothers are not going to disclose that information. This is fraud and abuse.

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