For some people, the decision of a Midwestern woman to bear the children of her daughter and son-in-law, given their start in a laboratory dish, presents little ethical difficulty. Arlette Schweitzer, 42, learned seven years ago that her daughter, Christa Uchytil, could never bear children. She told doctors she would do anything, including donate her own uterus, to her daughter. Then she found she could, in effect, do just that. No money changed hands and, since Christa's egg was fertilized by her husband's sperm, no messy clouds were left about who the "real" parents would be.
For others, the picture is far less clear. Few scientific discoveries have shaken traditional views of parenting harder than the "assisted fertility procedures" introduced with the 1978 birth of Louise Brown, the first "test tube baby." "Surrogate parenting," which produced New Jersey's notorious "Baby M" case, has been one of the most troubling.
An industry now serves desperate couples unable to have children unaided -- 200 sperm banks and 200 infertility clinics in the United States alone, according to the Birmingham, Ala.-based, American Fertility Society. More than 10,000 babies have been born through these facilities. Insurers have begun coverage for some of the expensive procedures -- up to $10,000 per pregnancy -- and nine states mandate coverage of clinic users.