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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.

Uterus Transplants May Soon Help Some Infertile Women in the U.S. Become Pregnantby Denise GradyThe New York TimesNovember 12th, 2015The Cleveland Clinic will become the first US site for experimental uterus transplants.
[Cambodia] Gov’t to Crack Down on Surrogacy Clinicsby Chea Takihiro & Jonathan CoxKhmer TimesNovember 11th, 2015Surrogacy companies are moving their “wombs for rent” services from Thailand to Cambodia, but government officials plan to classify surrogacy as a form of human trafficking.
'Somebody has to be the icebreaker': Aussies seeking babies turn to Cambodiaby Lindsay MurdochSydney Morning HeraldOctober 30th, 2015A booming surrogacy industry chased out of Thailand and Nepal has established itself in Cambodia, where human trafficking laws and a lack of surrogacy regulation could produce fraught legal battles.
India Wants to Ban Birth Surrogacy for Foreignersby Nida NajarThe New York TimesOctober 28th, 2015A draft bill would exclude foreigners from accessing commercial surrogacy in India.
American Surrogate Death: NOT the Firstby Mirah RibenHuffPost BlogOctober 15th, 2015Brooke Lee Brown's death "underscores the ethical problem with asking women to serve as surrogates for non-medical reasons." Is death simply an occupational hazard in the surrogacy industry?
[India] Blanket ban likely on NRIs, PIOs, foreigners having kids through surrogacyThe Economic TimesOctober 15th, 2015A draft bill limits intended parents to Indian residents, allows single and divorced women to contract as surrogates, and addresses healthcare for women during surrogacy.
Surrogacy as an Iceberg: 90 Percent Below Waterby Emma ManiereBiopolitical TimesOctober 14th, 2015While agencies market surrogacy as a fulfilling “journey,” they also caution prospective consumers about ethical and financial pitfalls. These contradictory messages reflect the true complexity of commercial surrogacy.
Video Review: Talking Biopolitics[cites CGS and CGS fellow Lisa Ikemoto]by Rebecca DimondBioNewsOctober 12th, 2015George Annas spoke with Lisa Ikemoto about his new book on genomic medicine and genetic testing.
Womb transplants given UK go-aheadBBCSeptember 30th, 2015Ten women will be chosen for a clinical trial that will transplant a donated uterus, monitor organ acceptance for a year, and initiate up to two IVF pregnancies before removing the transplant.
The Messy, Complicated Nature of Assisted Reproductive Technology[cites CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by J. Wesley JuddPacific StandardSeptember 28th, 2015A California court ART case shows that even when there is a contract, the issues are far from black and white.
Bioethics in the Grocery-Store Checkout Lineby Ruth GrahamThe AtlanticSeptember 15th, 2015If you don’t follow celebrity gossip, you might have missed just how often stories about reproductive technology are gracing the covers of tabloid magazines.
Australian Families in Limbo as Nepal Joins India and Thailand in Banning Commercial Surrogacy [Australia]by Lauren WilsonNews.com.auSeptember 1st, 2015The Supreme Court of Nepal issued an interim order putting an immediate stop to commercial surrogacy services.
Political Notes: CA bill protecting same-sex parents advancesby Matthew S. BajkoBay Area ReporterAugust 27th, 2015Gay, lesbian and unmarried couples who use assisted reproduction and third party gametes would be recognized as parents from the moment their child is born.
Nepal Bans Surrogate Births — Worry for Gay Israelisby JTAThe ForwardAugust 27th, 2015Many gay Israelis now travel to Nepal for surrogacy because Israel bans surrogate pregnancies for same-sex couples.
Právo: No One Wants Czech Child Born to Surrogate Mother by CTKPrague Daily MonitorAugust 13th, 2015The Czech infant, now a year old, was diagnosed with congenital epilepsy and paralysis. Both the intended parents and surrogate mother renounced parental rights, leaving him in institutional care.
Thailand Bans Commercial Surrogacy for Foreigners, Singles[Thailand]by Penny Yi WangABC NewsAugust 7th, 2015After recent scandals involving foreign intending parents, Thailand has banned commercial surrogacy serving foreign clients.
Law Banning Commercial Surrogacy Takes Effect ThursdayBangkok PostJuly 29th, 2015Controversy continues to swirl around children born before Thailand's new law was passed this winter.
Outsourcing Motherhood: India's Reproductive Dystopiaby Namita KohliHindustan TimesJuly 26th, 2015Stories of DNA mismatches, abandoned babies, and unscrupulous practices at IVF clinics suggest that commercial surrogacy in the country is almost in a state of lawlessness.
The House of Hidden Mothers by Meera Syalby Aisha FarooqDESIblitz.com [UK]July 22nd, 2015A new novel explores issues of infertility and surrogacy that affect South Asian and British Asian society today.
Poverty Forces Workers' Wives to Become Surrogate Mothersby Neetu Chandra SharmaIndia TodayJuly 3rd, 201592 per cent of the surrogates in Delhi did not even have a copy of the contract and only 27 per cent of the clinics in Delhi and 11.4 per cent in Mumbai were party to the contract.
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