There is no doubt that surrogacy is a revolutionary assisted reproductive technology that has changed the medical industry. Nonetheless, it is not without its fair share of controversy.
After a series of surrogacy gone wrong, such as that of Gammy, a baby who was born with Down syndrome by a Thai surrogate mother and abandoned by his intended Australian parents, there has been a controversial universal debate with critics questioning the legality of this technique.
This brings about the overarching question—is surrogacy legal?
Before we get an ultimate answer to this question, let us learn a few things about surrogacy.
What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy is when a woman carries a pregnancy to term with the intention of giving the child to another individual at birth. Mostly, the other individual is often a couple (referred to as "intended parents”), who cannot conceive a child themselves because of various reasons.
There are two types of surrogacy:
Traditional surrogacy- The surrogate mother provides the egg, which is artificially inseminated with the intended father’s sperm. In this case, the surrogate mother becomes a genetic mother.
Gestational Surrogacy- The surrogate mother doesn't provide the egg; thus, she doesn't become the genetic mother of the child. Instead, the intended mother's egg is fertilized through IVF and then placed in the womb of the surrogate mother. In some cases, however, sperm and egg donors could be involved.
So, is surrogacy legal?
The legality of surrogacy varies from one country to another.
In some countries such as Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, Portugal, France, and Germany, all acts of surrogacy are prohibited by law, and those found culpable face the full wrath of the law.
In other countries such as Denmark, Ireland, Belgium, and the United Kingdom, surrogacy is allowed but under one condition—the surrogate mother is not supposed to receive any form of payment unless on grounds deemed reasonable by the law.
These countries allow what is often referred to as altruistic surrogacy, which is when the surrogate mother doesn’t receive any form of monetary compensation. In most altruistic surrogacy agreements, the surrogate typically has a close relation with the intended parents, such as a close friend or family member.
In these countries, only commercial surrogacy, or when a surrogate mother is paid to deliver the child, is punishable by law.
However, commercial surrogacy is legal in some countries, such as Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and India.
Unlike many countries, the United States doesn’t have national policies in place to govern surrogacy. The responsibility of deciding whether to legalize this technology is left in the hands of state authorities. Therefore, laws vary widely from state to state.
There are states that have made it a crime to pay for surrogacy, while there are others that expressly prohibit it. In some states, this assisted reproductive technology is reserved for married couples only. Fortunately, there are some states that have allowed this technology to flourish.
If you live in Australia, it is important to understand that it is a criminal offense in some states to seek commercial surrogacy in another country. Therefore, you need to understand the laws in your state before considering this option.
Which are some of the best destinations for surrogacy?
According to fertility experts, Ukraine, India, Russia, Thailand, and the United States are some of the most popular destinations for couples seeking surrogacy. Other countries include Georgia, Nepal, Poland, and Mexico.
Unfortunately, some of these countries don’t have laws that address surrogacy directly; hence, most arrangements are left in legal limbo and raise a host of ethical and vexing social issues. As a result, children’s best interests and their guardianship are determined by courts of law.
Another major issue that arises with surrogacy is the cost. Since this process involves doctors, lawyers, psychologists, facilitators, and other professionals, it can cost as much as $100,000 in some countries or $150,000 depending on the program. Yes, it could cost you as much as $150,000 to get a child through surrogacy! Astounding, huh?
Is there a recommended destination for surrogacy?
Considering the cost of this method of assisted reproduction and the legal issues surrounding it, you probably want to know which country has proven to be the number one destination for surrogacy.
Luckily, there is one country that stands out from the rest, thanks to its explicit laws surrounding this technology—Ukraine.
In Ukraine, surrogacy, which is often referred to as surrogate motherhood, is made affordable for all and is regulated by national law. This could be the primary reason why couples around the world are looking for Ukrainian surrogate mothers.
Below are some of the requirements that must be met for a couple to seek surrogacy in Ukraine:
People seeking surrogacy must be a married heterosexual couple
At least one of the parents must contribute to the genetic material of the childThere must be a medical reason why it is impossible for the mother not to carry a pregnancy or get pregnant
The medical reasons allowed by the law are a deformed or missing uterus, and morphological, anatomical, and/or structural endometrial abnormalities that lead to implantation failure and cannot be cured
Adequately completed documents needed for the surrogacy program
The surrogate mother should not have any biological relation to the child
Apart from reasonably friendly laws, the cost of surrogacy in Ukraine is relatively low. Some couples have reported paying $40,000-$60,000, which is a fraction of what they could have paid in other countries.
However, the amount of money you pay will depend on an array of factors, such as the number of transfers required to achieve pregnancy and whether or not egg donation is required.
Note: Thanks to the perfect blend of the legality of egg donation and competitive pricing, Ukraine is one of the best countries you should consider for surrogacy. Nonetheless, you need to consider another option if you are in a homosexual relationship or you don't have fertility problems because seeking surrogacy in this country is illegal in those cases.
One of the most important things you should do before choosing surrogacy is to understand the legal issues surrounding this assisted reproduction method. Also, it is vital to recognize that the laws continue to change as this technology advances. Therefore, to protect your rights and those of your child-to-be, consider hiring a family law attorney or one who specializes in reproductive law. He/she will advise you on the legality of this method and draft a surrogacy contract that will ensure you don’t get on the wrong side of the law.
In case you find it challenging to organize and manage the entire process, consider working with a reputable surrogacy agency, which will help you every step of the way and ensure everything goes as planned.
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