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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.


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.
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.
European Human Rights Court Orders France to Recognise Surrogate-Mother ChildrenRFIJune 26th, 2014France has the right to ban surrogate parenthood but not to refuse granting legal status to children born to surrogate mothers, the Court ruled.
Woman Sets Out to Ban Surrogacyby Susan Donaldson JamesABCJune 25th, 2014A filmmaker argues that surrogacy has become a baby-buying operation that allows wealthy couples to exploit vulnerable women, often those of lesser means.
Ombudsman Warns Surrogacy Law Could Leave Children Statelessby Ruadhán Mac CormaicThe Irish TimesJune 24th, 2014The Irish Government should explain what will happen to children whose parents break the law by entering into a commercial surrogacy deal, advised the Children’s Ombudsman.
Passport Delay Leaves Surrogate Babies Stranded in IndiaBBCJune 20th, 2014The British government is being urged to allow a couple whose babies were born in a surrogacy arrangement to issue them passports.
Donor Deaths in India Highlight Surrogacy Perilsby Swapna MajundarThomson Reuters FoundationJune 16th, 2014Advocates are pressing the government to publicize health warnings and pass regulations.
Children of Surrogacy Campaign to Outlaw the Practiceby  Jane RidleyNew York PostJune 16th, 2014"You can’t sell your kidney for profit but you can purchase an egg or sell a child. There needs to be more checks and balances."
CGS and OBOS Awarded Two-Year Grant by MacArthur FoundationJune 11th, 2014We are delighted to announce that the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has awarded CGS and OBOS a $200,000 grant over two years for collaborative work on cross-border surrogacy and commercial egg retrieval.
"Three-Person IVF" Update Reveals How Little We Knowby Jessica CussinsThe Huffington PostJune 5th, 2014The UK fertility regulator has been saying the techniques are "not unsafe" for three years now. This should not be interpreted to mean that they are in fact safe.
Another Scandal at a Prominent Surrogacy Agencyby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesMay 29th, 2014Planet Hospital, a well-known medical tourism company that has boasted of pioneering cross-border surrogacy in India and Mexico, stands accused of deceiving its clients and stealing their money.
Desperate for a Baby: Scammed in Global Surrogacy's Newest Frontierby Caroline Cooper, Adam May and Anna ChristiansenAl Jazeera AmericaMay 15th, 2014The prominent international surrogacy agency Planet Hospital is now in bankruptcy and under federal investigation, accused of leaving clients with a pile of bills and no babies.
Ending Discrimination in Surrogacy Lawsby Anil MalhotraThe HinduMay 3rd, 2014Recent government meetings on India's draft Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill have resulted in a proposal for significant changes, including restricting surrogacy to “infertile Indian married couples” only.
US Paediatrician Attacks Surrogacyby Michael CookBioEdgeMay 3rd, 2014A pediatrician at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine has published a blistering rebuttal to the claim that on the whole, women in developing countries benefit from commercial surrogacy.
Invoking ‘Choice’ When Discussing Surrogacy as a Feminist Concern is a Mistakeby Susan Berke Fogel, Francine Coeytaux, Marcy Darnovsky, Lisa Ikemoto, and Judy NorsigianRH Reality CheckApril 23rd, 2014It is troubling to see the vexing question of commercial surrogacy treated as a litmus test for feminists. It can’t be understood in a simplistic pro-choice versus anti-choice framework, or as only a matter of self-determination.
Should a Woman Be Allowed to Hire a Surrogate Because She Fears Pregnancy Will Hurt Her Career?Or "ruin" her body? What if she's just afraid of giving birth? by Sarah Elizabeth RichardsElleApril 17th, 2014“I call these cases designer surrogacy,” says a California fertility doctor.
The Baby Makers: Critics Push for Regulation of India's Booming Surrogacy IndustryABCApril 15th, 2014Candidates are being urged to finally push through legislation to regulate the country's booming commercial surrogacy industry. "The human rights of the surrogates are not being protected," said author and critic Kishwar Desai.
Inconvenient Truths About Commercial Surrogacyby Kathleen Sloan and Jennifer LahlTwin CitiesApril 1st, 2014It's time for the shenanigans and propaganda to stop and for the inconvenient truths about commercial surrogacy to be told.
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