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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.


New Surrogacy Bill Bars Married Couples with Kids, NRIs, Gays, Live-ins, Foreignersby Express News ServiceThe Indian ExpressAugust 25th, 2016The Union Cabinet proposes draft bill to only include "altruistic surrogacy" for childless couples who have been married for at least five years.
Surrogacy Still Big Business in Shanghai Despite National Banby Alice YanSouth China Morning PostAugust 25th, 2016Since China's one-child policy relaxed two years ago, the surrogacy industry has been expanding despite recent police raids.
Booming demand, state protections attract commercial surrogate birthingby Kathy RobertsonSacramento BeeAugust 5th, 2016California has more surrogacy regulation than most states. But the founder of an agency comments, "Anybody in the whole world – even a felon – can open an agency. There is no licensing, no background check."
It's time for a conversation on parental surrogacy rulesby Celine CooperMontreal GazetteJuly 31st, 2016Is Montreal inching closer to relaxing or even abandoning its entrenched disapproval of procreative surrogacy?
35 couples used surrogates since new law in placeThe Nation [Thailand]July 31st, 2016Government agencies will track outcomes for women working as surrogates and children born in surrogacy arrangements, and analyse information on ways to improve regulations.
Guardian ad litem bills gay couple $100K for report questioning surrogacyby Debra Cassens WeissABA Journal Daily NewsJuly 27th, 2016The judge was extremely critical of surrogacy and his remarks have since been called “unduly harsh” by another judge.
'Activist judge' compares surrogacy to human traffickingby Daniel BiceMilwaukee-Wisconsin Journal SentinelJuly 24th, 2016The couple was forced to take second and third mortgages out on their home, but they were finally granted parental rights.
Two Decades After Dollyby Pete ShanksJuly 12th, 201620 years after the first cloned mammal was born, the US still does not have legal prohibitions on cloned people, or on heritable human genetic modification.
US firm begins to market Cambodia-based surrogacy serviceby Will Jackson & Vandy MuongThe Phnom Penh PostJuly 6th, 2016Surrogacy Cambodia markets cross-border surrogacy despite the Cambodian government's tacit disapproval.
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.
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