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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.


The Baby Makers: Critics Push for Regulation of India's Booming Surrogacy IndustryABCApril 15th, 2014As more than 800 million Indians go to the polls this month, the main political party candidates are being urged to finally push through legislation to regulate the country's booming commercial surrogacy industry.
Inconvenient Truths About Commercial Surrogacyby Kathleen Sloan and Jennifer LahlTwin CitiesApril 1st, 2014It's time for the shenanigans and propaganda to stop and for the inconvenient truths about commercial surrogacy to be told.
Surrogacy Births Bill Sails Through House Committeeby Michelle MillhollonThe Advocate [Louisiana]March 27th, 2014The compromise includes criminalizing financial compensation other than medical, legal and travel expenses for the surrogacy.
A Surrogate Storyby Debesh BanerjeeThe Indian ExpressMarch 21st, 2014A documentary shot in Delhi tells of a surrogate mother’s life and the lucrative industry of commercial surrogacy.
Abbott Launches Sweeping Review of IVF EthicsSunshine Coast Daily [Australia]March 17th, 2014The ethical rules governing the use of egg and sperm donations, embryos, surrogacy and sex selection for IVF patients could soon be overhauled, with a sweeping review underway.
The Rent-a-Womb Boomby Adrienne VogtThe Daily BeastMarch 3rd, 2014Who really profits from India’s multimillion-dollar surrogacy industry? Adrienne Vogt explores the uncertain future of the subcontinent’s baby business.
What are the Best Interests of the Child in International Surrogacy?by Professor Eric Blyth, Dr Marilyn Crawshaw and Professor Olga van den AkkerBioNewsFebruary 17th, 2014As the surrogacy industry grows, so too do calls for a loosening of international and domestic restraints. A consequence of this is the potential marginalization of the best interests of children.
Bodies and Babies Commodified: A Review of Breedersby Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorBiopolitical TimesFebruary 17th, 2014Breeders serves as a necessary corrective to the rosy PR the surrogacy industry puts out.
Worlds, and Wombs, Collide in Kansas Bill Criminalizing Surrogate Pregnancy Contractsby Patricia J. WilliamsThe NationFebruary 5th, 2014There is danger in turning surrogacy into a sexless crime.
Review: The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock by Amy Richards, Biopolitical Times guest contributorFebruary 4th, 2014A generational wake-up call directed to those raised to think that medical breakthroughs are always in humanity’s best interest.
The Baby-Making Business: on the front lines of Toronto’s booming, semi-legal surrogacy marketby Alison MotlukToronto LifeFebruary 3rd, 2014Toronto’s surrogacy industry is booming and lucrative and at least partly illegal. Prospective parents, desperate to start a family, are willing to take the risk.
Ireland Publishes Draft Surrogacy Legislationby Antony Blackburn-StarzaBioNewsFebruary 3rd, 2014The Irish Government has agreed to put forward for consultation proposals for a wide-ranging bill that features provisions on surrogacy and parenthood.
What Huxley Knewby J. P. HarpigniesLetter to the New York TimesNovember 24th, 2013Huxley’s assembly-line baby factories were an exaggeration, but it’s a mistake to dismiss too quickly his fears about the genetic manipulation of the species.
International Surrogacy Laws are not Keeping upby Kingsley Napley, Claire Wood and Katie NewburyLexologyNovember 14th, 2013There is currently no worldwide regulation of surrogacy. Unfortunately, therefore, the potential for exploitation is high.
No More Tourist Visa for Commissioning Surrogacy in India: Home MinistryIBN LiveOctober 30th, 2013Foreign nationals intending to visit India for commissioning surrogacy will not be allowed to come on a tourist visa, with the Home Ministry ordering strict adherence of surrogacy laws.
'Where Did I Come From?' Donor Eggs, Sperm and a Surrogateby Anndee HochmanThe InquirerOctober 17th, 2013Child psychologists have long advised telling kids "early and often" about their origins, especially when those origins involve donor eggs or sperm.
Canadian LGBTQ Families and Assisted Reproduction by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 9th, 2013A major series of news articles describes "the emerging world of gay parenthood and surrogacy" in Canada — and abroad.
The Arlene Bynon Show[With CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Arlene BynonThe Arlene Bynon ShowOctober 7th, 2013Marcy Darnovsky discusses 23andMe's recent "designer baby" patent with on a national affairs program broadcast on SiriusXM.
Sun, sand and surrogatesby Natalie StechysonCalgary HeraldSeptember 30th, 2013International surrogacy is fraught with ethical and medical dilemmas, including the possibility that the women who bear children for others are being exploited.
Foreigners Are Flocking To India To Rent Wombs And Grow Surrogate Babies by Nita Bhalla and Mansi ThapliyalReutersSeptember 30th, 2013A debate over whether the unregulated surrogacy industry in India exploits poor women prompted a draft law that could make it tougher for foreigners seeking babies made in India.
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