the price of pregnancy

After facing fertility issues, Giuliana and Bill get a happy ending, but the sad reality is that many won’t

Recently, we received the wonderful news that E! News anchor, Giuliana Rancic and her husband Bill were expecting a baby. The couple, who married in December 2006, have had a highly publicised battle with infertility and miscarriage that has been documented on their reality show Giuliana and Bill. After the shocking diagnosis of breast cancer became public knowledge in November last year, their supporters have been waiting for their happy ending. Last week they got it, though by different means then they expected.

You see, Giuliana and Bill are expecting their first child through the help of a gestational carrier/surrogate. This hasn’t been uncommon in Hollywood with famous couples like Sarah Jessica Parker & Matthew Broderick and Elton John & David Furnish also going down the surrogate route. For those playing at home, a couple who welcomes a child through a gestational carrier are 100% biologically the parents of the child. It is the couples fertilised embryo that is carried by another woman, usually due to the fact that the mother can’t carry a child to full term.

It is fantastic news for the Rancic’s, but sadly, many couples facing infertility just don’t have those options available to them. Many women are waiting till their late 30s before even thinking about starting a family as they want to focus on their careers, travel and do all the things they want to do before they have children. With older celebrities falling pregnant or having children by other means, the average woman can be lulled into a false sense of security that they, too, will be able to have a child.

Despite the high rates of teen pregnancy, it is actually exceedingly difficult to fall pregnant, especially once you’ve passed 35. Statistically speaking, when you are 20, there is a 90% chance of falling pregnant after a year of trying; once you hit 35, that decreases significantly to a 55% chance. If you aren’t particularly wealthy and you live in Australia, it can be extremely difficult to have a child outside of ‘natural’ means. The three main options, IVF, adoption and surrogacy are not easily accessible for the Australian woman.

IVF: Even though couples facing infertility in Australia have access to these ‘treatments’, they can be fairly costly and if the first attempt fails, many can’t afford to try it for a second time. Just how expensive are they? I found this graph on IVF Australia explaining the prices of certain treatments:

While the final patient cost doesn’t look too bad, there are many people in Australia who don’t have private health insurance that will cover the cost of these treatments. There is also no guarantee it will work. So when you add up a few tries, it starts to look a bit more costly.

Adoption: Adoption in Australia is one of the most difficult in the world due to the waiting periods of anywhere from 2 to 8 years, plus the serious financial burden of around $40,000 per child. Deborra-Lee Jackman (more commonly known as Deborra- Lee Furness), who has two adopted children with husband Hugh Jackman, wrote about how difficult adoption in Australia is back in December 2008 on ABC’s The Drum:

As it stands, Australia has the second lowest number of inter-country adoptions in the world. The only one below us is the United Kingdom. Considering our immense resources, this is a great shame.

The major problem in regards to adopting in Australia is the waiting time from the beginning of the process to actually picking up your child – it can take up to eight years. It is expensive too – costing up to $40,000 to adopt a child.

Ordinary Australians are probably not aware of how unjust and dire the inter-country adoption program in this country is. And how many people it affects. I have been personally involved in the adoption issue after experiencing my own problems when I tried to adopt in Australia eight years ago. I have since been blessed with two beautiful children that I adopted from the United States.

Surrogacy: Until recently, Surrogacy was illegal in Australia and even now you can be jailed and fined for paying a surrogate, here or overseas. When Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban welcomed their second child, Faith Margaret, via surrogate in late 2010, Australian newspapers couldn’t help but comment on how what Nicole did would soon be illegal in NSW. From The Sydney Morning Herald:

The NSW’s Surrogacy Act, which was passed in November but has not yet come into force, will impose penalties of two years’ jail, a $110,000 fine, or both on parents who pay for a surrogate here or abroad to carry their child.

Commercial surrogacy is illegal in Australia. But under the new law, NSW residents face prosecution for using commercial surrogacy overseas.

Altruistic surrogacy, where a woman is not paid to carry a child, is permitted in Australia but rarely carried out.

While I am extremely happy that Giuliana and Bill’s baby dream is coming true, the sad reality is that the average Australian facing fertility issues doesn’t have access to the same resources as the wealthy (and often famous) American. It can be difficult to fall pregnant naturally, and people need to be aware of the cost and availability of the alternative journeys to becoming parents.

Where do you stand on surrogacy? Should it be ‘illegal’ to pay a surrogate in Australia? Do you think the rich and famous have it easier? Does seeing older celebrities fall pregnant in their late 30s/early 40s make you believe it will also be easy for you? Just how much should it cost to become a parent?

Picture of Giuliana and Bill found here.
Picture of IVF Pricing found here.  

Originally published on KiKi & Tea on 2 May 2012

3 comments

  1. itsallthelittlemoments · May 7, 2012

    First, I’ll start by saying I’m in America, so I don’t know how much my opinion counts for. I think it is sad that surrogacy isn’t an available option. I almost lost my life twice when trying to have a child. I had endometriosis; as result, we had infertility problems from the start. I even started at twenty-two. We eventually concieved, but not before I had to go through the joy of fertility drugs, ectopic pregancies and artificial insemination. So many people don’t think about how what we see from those who are rich and famous aren’t a good representation of reality for the rest of society. I think that is true no matter where you are.

    • moniquefischle · May 7, 2012

      So sorry to hear about the struggle you’ve gone through. It’s so sad to hear stories like yours. I also have endometriosis, and the thought of infertility struggles scares me. And of course your opinion counts, I was merely stating that in the US you have options like surrogacy and a better adoption program than we have here in Australia. Of course people everywhere struggle with alternative methods to have children, I just feel that in Australia we have fewer options available to us. The rich and famous really aren’t a good representation and I think people lose sight of that.

  2. Pingback: the element of surprise | the musings of monique

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