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About Surrogacy


Surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman carries and delivers a child for another couple or person. Most commonly, the surrogate is impregnated with an embryo created with the egg of another woman. This is termed "gestational surrogacy." In "traditional surrogacy," the surrogate is also the child's genetic mother.

Surrogacy is often used to allow women who are unable to carry a child, but whose eggs are viable, to have a child genetically related to both her and her partner. In other cases, "intended parents" including gay couples use surrogates and third-party eggs to create a child genetically related to one member of the couple.

Some surrogacy arrangements involve no financial considerations between the parties involved, or compensate the surrogate only for expenses and, perhaps, lost wages involved with carrying the child. Increasingly, however, surrogacy is a commercial arrangement.

A number of countries and U.S. states prohibit commercial surrogacy arrangements, or limit compensation to expenses and lost wages. Others have no regulations and market-like conditions prevail.

In the U.S., costs for surrogacy are upwards of $100,000. This has led to the practice known as "reproductive tourism," in which prospective parents travel to avoid regulations or to save money. Some people seeking surrogates, especially Europeans, come to the U.S., but even more go to less developed regions where fertility practices are loosely regulated, if at all. India, perhaps the world's number one hub for cross-border medical treatment, has a reproductive tourism market with revenues estimated to be over half a billion dollars.

Industry supporters often defend this practice saying that women in developing countries can earn many times a normal salary by being a surrogate. However, women's health and human rights advocates and scholars raise serious concerns about how these arrangements take advantage of socially marginalized women, compromising their health and reproductive autonomy to make a profit. Some surrogate brokers, for example, routinely perform C-sections on all of their surrogates so that hiring parents can schedule to be present for the delivery. There have been several scandals involving the exploitation of surrogate mothers or fraud committed by brokers on would-be parents.

There may be legal issues after the birth of a child to a foreign surrogate. Questions of citizenship remain unresolved in several jurisdictions.


As surrogacy industry expands, legal and ethical issues mulledby Bun Sengkong & Will JacksonThe Phnom Penh PostJune 23rd, 2016Surrogacy agencies in Cambodia and websites such as Gay with Kids facilitate cross-border surrogacy, although the Cambodian government remains unclear on surrogacy policies.
Book Review: Discounted Life - The Price of Global Surrogacy in Indiaby Ëlo LuikBioNewsJune 20th, 2016Rudrappa locates surrogacy within the histories of politics and control as well as aspiration, nationalism and modernisation that the bodies of working-class Indian women have long been subjects of and subjected to.
On Cyborgs and Gene Editing: Lessons from Orphan Blackby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical Times guest contributorJune 1st, 2016The television show takes a cue from science fiction author Donna Haraway and engages the dangers of human genetic modification.
The Dwindling Options for Surrogacy Abroadby Danielle Preiss & Pragati ShahiThe AtlanticMay 31st, 2016As developing nations clamp down on the practice, hopeful parents are struggling to find women to carry their children.
Surrogacy laws for single parents to change after court ruling BBCMay 23rd, 2016UK surrogacy laws that prevent single people from claiming parental rights are set to change following a ruling by the Family Division of the High Court.
Orphan Black emphasizes the science in its sci-fi with a disturbing chapter on eugenicsby Caroline FramkeVoxMay 15th, 2016The BBC America series about human clones is now tackling the personal, scientific, and societal implications of eugenics, gene editing, and germline engineering.
I Want To Put A Baby In You: The Curious Case Of Louisianaby Ellen TrachmanAbove the LawMay 4th, 2016Instead of reasonable regulation, the pending Louisiana bill transparently limits the types of people who can enter surrogacy arrangements.
As China’s one-child policy ends, surrogacy services rise in the U.S.by Kevin SmithSan Gabriel Valley TribuneApril 30th, 2016“I’ve been contacted by 15 to 18 agencies out of China... 90 percent of them don’t have any patients. They’re just new agencies trying to make a buck."
Gay couple win custody battle against Thai surrogate motherby Oliver HolmesThe Guardian [US]April 26th, 2016The central juvenile and family court ruled in favor of the American biological father of 15-month-old Baby Carmen.
Inside the Hidden Global Supply Chain for Frozen Sperm, Eggs, and Embryosby Sarah ZhangWIREDApril 25th, 2016Ever-changing laws and attitudes, which vary not only country by country but within a country, can make transportation logistically difficult.
Couple who lost young sons, become grandparents by surrogacyby Eram AghaThe Times of IndiaApril 9th, 2016A couple will raise their twin granddaughters, born in a surrogacy arrangement that used their dead son's sperm.
10th Anniversary Baby Markets Congressby Elliot HosmanApril 7th, 2016Legal scholars, social scientists, advocates, and filmmakers grapple with assisted reproduction.
The Surrogacy Cycleby Abby RabinowitzThe Virginia Quarterly ReviewMarch 31st, 2016Promising an escape from poverty, transnational surrogacy has left many Indian women with little to show for their efforts. What went wrong?
‘Baby Carmen’ surrogacy custody trial opensby APBangkok PostMarch 23rd, 2016An American-Spanish couple open a high-profile custody battle for a baby girl born to a Thai surrogate mother, who wanted to keep the child when she found out they were gay.
Ma Na Sapna – A Mother’s Dreamby Gabriele Werner-Felmayer & Carmel Shalev, Biopolitical Times guest contributorsMarch 23rd, 2016A 2013 film on transnational surrogacy in India brings a sensitive view of the surrogate mothers who are otherwise largely invisible, and allows them to speak for themselves.
Surrogate mother who sold same babies twice sentenced for fraudby Agence France-PresseThe GuardianMarch 22nd, 2016A French woman was given a suspended sentence for defrauding two gay couples who hired her, and four couples were fined for making commercial surrogacy arrangements with her.
Whose Body, Whose Property, What Choice?by Alison Irvine & Katayoun Chamany, Biopolitical Times guest contributorsMarch 21st, 2016A recent panel at The New School brought together speakers on health psychology, queer studies, law, life sciences, and more to discuss bodies purchased for labor and care in assisted reproduction.
Chinese parents hiring surrogate moms in Japan through underground brokerageThe MainichiMarch 19th, 201674 wealthy Chinese couples have gone to Japan to have children via women paid as surrogates, the majority of whom are also from China.
Why Surrogacy Laws Must Be Established — the Story of the Ott-Dahlsby Keston Ott-DahlHuffPostMarch 18th, 2016When my partner Andrea became a surrogate for another lesbian couple we had no idea we would end up starting over as new parents.
Jordan Schnitzer Gets a Son—and a Court Battle[cites CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by Nigel JaquissWillamette WeekMarch 16th, 2016A Portland real estate mogul used science and the law to select the sex of his child born via surrogate. The baby's parentage is now in dispute.
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