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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.


Disability Will Never Be Immoral by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesAugust 29th, 2014Prenatal genetic testing can be a valuable tool, but it provides strikingly limited data. Events of this summer, including the abandonment of Baby Gammy and shockingly intolerant comments from Richard Dawkins, speak to the risk of conflating one type of information with a broader reality.
British baby Gammy: Surrogate claims mum refused to take disabled twinby Ellen WallworkParentDishAugust 26th, 2014A British surrogate mother of twins has said the intended mother rejected one of the babies because she was born with a disability.
Thailand’s Business in Paid Surrogates May Be Foundering in a Moral Quagmireby Thomas FrankThe New York TimesAugust 26th, 2014The baby boomlet in Pak Ok was just one of several bizarre and often ethically charged iterations of Thailand’s freewheeling venture into what detractors call the womb rental business, an unguided experiment that the country’s military government now says it is planning to end.
Interpol Investigates 'Baby Factory' as Man Fathers 16 Surrogate Childrenby Kevin RawlinsonThe GuardianAugust 23rd, 2014Interpol has launched an investigation into an alleged "baby factory" after it emerged that a Japanese businessman had fathered 16 surrogate children and expressed a desire for many more.
California Couple Shares Surrogate Story in Wake of Thailand Controversy by Beth GreenfieldYahoo! HealthAugust 19th, 2014When news broke earlier this month about baby Gammy, many were shocked. But not Keston and Andrea Ott-Dahl, a San Francisco couple who had a similar experience right here in America.
Thailand to Ban Commercial Surrogacy in Wake of Gammy ScandalThe GuardianAugust 13th, 2014Military government approve draft law that will effectively stop foreign couples paying for pregnancies in the country.
Dreams of Children Shattered as Thailand Closes All IVF Center by Lindsay MurdochThe Sydney Morning HeraldAugust 9th, 2014Thai authorities linked the Bangkok clinic with a suspected international “baby factory” trafficking syndicate said to be behind at least 14 babies destined for overseas.
CGS to Chair Sessions at Forum on Cross-Border Surrogacy and Adoption in The HagueAugust 11-13, 2014Nearly 100 scholars, acdvocates, and policymakers from 27 countries will come together at the International Forum on Intercountry Adoption and Global Surrogacy.
Thai Case Casts Spotlight on Business of Surrogacyby Grant Peck and Kriten GelineauAP August 7th, 2014Contributing to Thailand's popularity as a surrogacy destination is the large number of impoverished women who will carry babies for a price, and the availability of doctors with good reproductive medical skills.
More Heart-Wrenching Chapters in the Baby Gammy Storyby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesAugust 7th, 2014Inadequate regulation of cross-border surrogacy has led to some truly awful stories, from coercion and exploitation of impoverished women, to children left stateless, to couples whose life savings have been embezzled by unscrupulous agencies. The unfolding story of Baby Gammy adds new dimensions to the complexities of contract pregnancies.
Surrogate Mother Cares for Baby Abandoned Because of Down Syndromeby Sonia Allan, Biopolitical Times guest contributorAugust 4th, 2014Many see Baby Gammy’s plight as highlighting the extent to which commercial surrogacy arrangements can exploit and commodify women and children.
China Experiences a Booming Underground Market in Surrogate Motherhoodby Ian Johnson and Cao LiThe New York TimesAugust 2nd, 2014In a small conference room overlooking Wuhan's smog-shrouded skyline, Huang Jinlai outlines his offer to China’s childless elite: for $240,000, a baby with your DNA, gender of your choice, born by a coddled but captive rural woman.
Australian Couple Leaves Down Syndrome Baby with Thai Surrogate by Lindsay MurdochThe Sydney Morning HeraldJuly 31st, 2014Gammy, a six-month-old baby abandoned by his Australian parents, could die because his Thai surrogate mother cannot pay for medical treatment for his congenital heart condition.
A Surrogacy Agency That Delivered Heartacheby Tamar LewinThe New York TimesJuly 27th, 2014As unregulated surrogacy agencies proliferate, the story of Planet Hospital stands as a cautionary tale about their ability to prey on vulnerable clients who do not notice the red flags.
French Luminaries’ Open Letter on Surrogacy by Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesJuly 24th, 2014Prominent left and center-left figures are urging President François Hollande to reinforce France’s legal prohibition of surrogacy contracts.
Closing the Information Gap on International Surrogacy[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Elayne CliftWomen's Media CenterJuly 16th, 2014The Center for Genetics and Society and Our Bodies Ourselves are teaming up to shed light on the human rights aspects of cross-border surrogacy.
A Call to François Hollande to Publicly Oppose Legalizing Surrogate Mother Contractsby Jacques Delors and Lionel JospinLibérationJuly 13th, 2014An open letter from French luminaries asking to oppose recognition of surrogacy contracts and reinforce the legal framework to fight against the soliciting of French clients by surrogacy agencies.
Cross-Border Surrogacy: Media Spotlight, EU Court Decision, International Forumby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesJuly 10th, 2014What happens when people flout their own countries’ laws by going abroad to hire a surrogate in one of the few jurisdictions that allow it?
Would-Be Parents Fleeced, Surrogates Abandoned by Mexican Surrogacy Operation Planet Hospitalby Jane Cowan and Bronwen ReedABC [Australia]July 8th, 2014An unscrupulous surrogacy operation in Mexico has left clients thousands of dollars out of pocket, and dozens of would-be surrogates abandoned.
Coming to U.S. for Baby, and Womb to Carry Itby Tamar LewinThe New York TimesJuly 5th, 2014With paid surrogacy not allowed in most of the world, foreign couples are heading to the US for surrogate pregnancies in increasing numbers.
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