Surrogacy Tourism: Laws Vary From Country to Country

After sightseeing and medical tourism, the latest reason for people to travel to foreign countries is surrogacy. In recent years surrogacy has become a fascinating option in the world of fertility treatment, making it possible for infertile women to legally pursue their dreams of building families through a surrogate mother.

Surrogacy could be of great help where the woman is not able to produce a child, either due to the infertility or is missing part of her uterus. In this arrangement, the egg from the woman and the sperm from her male partner are taken and fertilized externally. The laboratory-created embryos are transferred to another woman’s (the surrogate) womb.

In some cases, a donor egg or sperm may be used in conjunction with the commissioning father’s sperm or mother’s egg in order to form an embryo.

Surrogacy: The Phenomenon

The surrogacy tourism is skyrocketing rapidly around the world, thanks to the dramatic increase in the number of childless and infertile people who are now increasingly opting for surrogacy. Many of these infertile patients have started seeking inexpensive surrogacy arrangement in low and middle-income countries.

Hospitals and fertility clinics in countries like India, Mexico and Thailand specialize in fertility treatments, such as IVF, IUI, ICSI and artificial insemination.

Also, there is an abundance of surrogacy clinics and LGBT friendly facilities in these countries that offer surrogacy services to straight and same sex couples. India, specifically, has become the land of opportunity for childless couples and singles who wish to experience the joys of parenthood, thanks to the surprisingly cheaper cost of surrogacy, fewer legal hassles, easy availability of surrogates and hassle-free procedure in this newly industrialized Asian country.

By some estimates, over 2 million babies are born via surrogate mothers around the world. In the United States, an estimated 1,400 babies are arriving via surrogacy every year, and it has been reported that between 1977 and 1992 approximately 5,000 surrogate births took place in the country. In 2010, surrogate mothers in India gave birth to an estimated 1500 babies for domestic and foreign people.

Apart from the cost and ease of procedure, another factor that gave a significant boost to surrogacy tourism is the surrogacy legislation. As the laws are so complex and restrictive in many European and Western countries, a number of hopeful parents are turning to other countries where surrogates are permitted to receive money in exchange for their services.

Laws in Different CountriesAround the world, each country has individual laws and regulations regarding surrogacy and its commercialization.

Several countries including Egypt, France, Germany, the Netherlands and some states of the United States have criminalized paid surrogacy, mainly due to the concerns that women may be coerced, or even forced, to become surrogates.

In the United States, laws for surrogacy differ greatly from state to state. The US states including California, Illinois, Arkansas, and Maryland, facilitate surrogacy and surrogacy contracts. The states that have restricted the practice of paid surrogacy include New York, Michigan, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Washington.

In France, Italy and Iceland both kinds of surrogacy, commercial or altruistic, is a criminal offense.

In Hungary, it is an offence to make or receive payment for surrogacy and advertising or arranging a surrogate mother for money is a criminal offence.

Across Australia the laws vary by states, with some having no legislation governing surrogacy at all. In Queensland, surrogacy is illegal, while in Tasmania paid surrogacy is an offence, and in South Australia and Victoria commercial surrogacy is illegal.

In New Zealand, surrogate mothers are not allowed to accept payment, but surrogacy without any payment is lawful.

In Hong Kong, paying a surrogate is an offense under the Human Reproductive Technology Ordinance 2000.

In the United Kingdom, commercial surrogacy is unlawful, strictly prohibited by the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985.

By Suzana