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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.


Center for Genetics and Society Report on Global Surrogacy Practices[Press statement]January 16th, 2015Just Released: Center for Genetics and Society Report on Global Surrogacy Practices, part of a series from the landmark Forum on Intercountry Adoption and Surrogacy
Surrogate Moms Sue Thai Ministry for Custody of 13 ChildrenAssociated PressJanuary 14th, 2015The surrogate mothers of 13 babies fathered by a Japanese businessman are suing Thai authorities and seeking to regain custody of the children.
Trying to Tame the Wild West of Surrogacy in Indiaby Raksha KumarAlJazeera AmericaJanuary 14th, 2015Carrying someone else's baby is a $400 million industry here, but there are still no laws to protect women working as surrogate mothers.
Surrogate Mothers Do Fine In Decade Following Birthby Lisa RapaportReutersJanuary 9th, 2015A decade after giving birth, surrogate mothers don't appear to suffer lasting mental health difficulties as a result of giving away the babies they delivered, a small study suggests.
The Future of Conceptionby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJanuary 8th, 2015Numerous writers took advantage of the ending year to look broadly at just how drastically we are changing the process of baby-making, and what it all means for society.
The High-Tech Future of the Uterusby Katherine DonThe AtlanticJanuary 5th, 2015Following the recent success of the world's first uterus transplant, scientists are pursuing the new frontier of the bioengineered womb.
How the Rise of Commercial Surrogacy is Turning Babies into Commoditiesby Clair AchmadThe ConversationDecember 25th, 2014This year the international spotlight turned with full force on cross-border commercial surrogacy.
Commercialized Conception Casualties: "Brave" Baby Making?by Mirah RibenHuffington PostDecember 22nd, 2014Hiring surrogates and purchasing sperm, eggs, or others' leftover frozen embryos have become accepted as choices on a menu of options.
The Hidden Costs of International Surrogacyby Darlena CunhaThe AtlanticDecember 22nd, 2014Overseas options look cheaper on paper, but they don't account for fraud, travel costs, and legal headaches that inevitably arise.
Biopolitical News of 2014by Pete Shanks, Jessica Cussins & Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesDecember 19th, 2014This is everything important that happened in biopolitics in 2014 (or close to it).
Top Biopolitical Times Posts of 2014by Jessica Cussins & Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 18th, 2014In 2014, CGS staffers and contributors posted 107 blogs in Biopolitical Times. These are twelve of our favorites.
Thailand’s Parliament Approves Bill Banning Commercial surrogacyAssociated Press in BangkokNovember 28th, 2014The decision follows several surrogacy scandals this year, including one in which an Australian couple left behind a baby with Down syndrome.
A Season of Surrogacy Scandalsby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesOctober 16th, 2014The summer and fall of 2014 have been a season of surrogacy scandals in many countries.
Surrogate Baby Left in India by Australian Couple Was Not Trafficked, Investigation Findsby  Ben Doherty, Melissa Davey and Daniel HurstThe GuardianOctober 9th, 2014Diplomats were concerned that an unwanted twin left with friends might have been stranded without parents or citizenship.
Surrogacy Boom in Mexico Brings Tales of Missing Money and Stolen Eggsby Jo TuckmanThe GuardianSeptember 25th, 2014Gestational mothers and new parents tell about the dark side of an industry that operates in a legal grey area.
'You Can Even Tailor Your Baby's Sex': Inside an Illicit Beijing Surrogacy Firmby Nectar GanSouth China Morning PostSeptember 23rd, 2014One surrogacy agency in Beijing offers the option of choosing the sex of your child if you add a few thousand yuan.
The Role of International Law for Surrogacy Must Be Expandedby Lisa IkemotoThe New York Times, Room for DebateSeptember 22nd, 2014The absence of law creates a “race to the bottom,” which serves agencies and clinics well, but leaves surrogates, intended parents, and children unprotected.
MacArthur Grant Sheds Light on Reproductive Technologies[References CGS]by Elayne CliftSentinel SourceSeptember 18th, 2014Thanks to a recent MacArthur Foundation grant to the Center for Genetics and Society and Our Bodies Ourselves, the information gap surrounding surrogacy and other assisted reproductive technologies will be addressed.
Surrogates and Couples Face a Maze of Laws, State by Stateby Tamar LewinThe New York TimesSeptember 17th, 2014Surrogacy remains a polarizing and charged issue. There is nothing resembling a national consensus on how to handle it and no federal law, leaving the states free to do as they wish.
International Surrogacy, Global Consumerism, Harms to Women and Childrenby Carmel Shalev, Biopolitical Times guest contributorSeptember 15th, 2014Medical associations, nations, and the international community must intervene in the unregulated global market for surrogacy to protect, promote and sanction the human dignity and human rights of women and children.
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