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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 Need for UK Surrogacy Law Reformby Rebecca CarrBioNewsJune 29th, 2015With 1000-2000 children being born to surrogates each year, a more robust framework is sorely needed to avoid the bitter legal battles that are increasingly arising.
Unregulated Surrogacy: Law Yet to Deliverby Vandana ShuklaThe Tribune [India]June 24th, 2015The Indian Council of Medical Research has to draft an appropriate, more equitable legislation that would look at the rights of the surrogate and her health vis-a-vis technology.
French Families Sue State to Recognize Surrogate Birthsby Philippe SottoAssociated PressJune 19th, 2015The case could change how surrogate births are handled in France, where infertility treatments are highly regulated and where many consider it unethical to make money off human reproduction.
Surrogate Parenting: A Worldwide Industry, Lacking Global Rulesby Ari ShapiroNPRJune 11th, 2015The bottom line: If you're an American in the market for a surrogate — and you have money to spend — you can do it.
Switzerland, Inter-Country Surrogacy and Public Policyby Michael Wells-GrecoBioNewsJune 8th, 2015The Swiss Federal Court refused to register a male couple, who are in a civil partnership, as the legal fathers of a child born following an inter-country surrogacy arrangement.
Human Factory Farming and the Campaign to Outlaw Surrogacyby Mirah RibenDissident VoiceMay 30th, 2015America is known as the most lax country for adoption and surrogacy. It has been called the Wild West for its lack of regulation of these practices. Is this a legacy we want to continue?
The Feminist History of Surrogacy: Should Pregnancy Give a Woman Rights Over a Baby? by GlosswitchNew Statesman May 22nd, 2015Our current thinking, with its impulse towards gender neutrality and the insistence that female reproduction isn't inherently different from its male counterpart, is flawed.
Unregistered Surrogate-Born Children Creating 'Legal Timebomb', Judge Warnsby Owen BowcottThe GuardianMay 18th, 2015Without a court-sanctioned parental order and improved international legal frameworks, children could end up “stateless and parentless.”
The Ethics of International Surrogacyby Anne SchiffThe Jerusalem PostMay 17th, 2015Sometimes it takes a tragedy to draw public attention to otherwise unconsidered problems. The recent earthquakes in Nepal, and their consequences for Israelis hiring surrogate mothers there, represent such an instance.
U.S. Couple Stuck in Mexico Due to Surrogacy Snafuby Rafael RomoCNNMay 8th, 2015An American couple who say they have been stuck in Mexico for weeks because officials there won't provide a birth certificate for their son believe a resolution could be close.
Israel Evacuates Surrogate Babies From Nepal but Leaves the Mothers Behindby Debra KaminTimeApril 28th, 2015The infants’ arrival completed the evacuation of 26 surrogate Israeli babies from Nepal, where a devastating earthquake killed more than 4,000.
“It’s a Baby Farm.”by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesApril 23rd, 2015A new documentary uncovers the shocking realities of unregulated commercial surrogacy in India.
Commercial Surrogacy Should be Legalised, Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant Saysby Bridget BrennanABC [Australia]April 17th, 2015Two disturbing cases of child abandonment in India and Thailand should force the Federal Government to act.
Fresh Surrogacy Concerns Over Boy Abandoned in Indiaby Judith IrelandSydney Morning HeraldApril 14th, 2015Another set of Australian parents abandoned their baby son, born through surrogacy in India in 2012.
States aren't Eager to Regulate Fertility Industry[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Michael OlloveUSA TodayMarch 19th, 2015Compared to many other industrialized nations, neither the U.S. nor state governments do much to oversee the multibillion-dollar assisted reproduction industry.
The Future of Wombs for Rentby Justine DrennanForeign PolicyMarch 2nd, 2015Thailand's recent surrogacy ban is liable to have a major impact on international surrogacy.
Surrogate Mothers in India Unaware of Risksby Frederik JoelvingReutersMarch 2nd, 2015Renting out their wombs may ease financial problems for poor women in India, but new research suggests surrogate mothers there are unaware of the risks and often left out of key medical decisions about their pregnancy.
United Kingdom Becomes Only Country to Allow Human Germline Modification[Press statement]February 24th, 2015The Center for Genetics and Society (CGS) joins many others who believe that this is a historic mistake.
She Got Rich Stealing Moms’ Dreamsby M.L. NestelThe Daily BeastFebruary 23rd, 2015Forty families, desperate for kids, paid Miracles Surrogacy tens of thousands each for the promise of parenthood. But the babies never came.
Thailand Bans Commercial Surrogacy for ForeignersBBCFebruary 20th, 2015Under the new law, only married Thai couples or couples with one Thai partner who have been married at least three years can seek surrogacy.
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