Surrogacy is a method where a woman agrees to carry a pregnancy for another person or persons, who will become the newborn child’s parent after birth.
Intended parents may seek a surrogacy arrangement when either pregnancy is medically impossible, pregnancy risk, present an unacceptable danger to the mother’s health or is a same sex couple’s preferred method of having children. Monetary compensation may or may not be involved in these arrangements. If the surrogate receives money for the surrogacy the arrangement is considered commercial surrogacy, if she receives no compensation beyond reimbursement of medical and other reasonable expenses it is referred to as altruistic. The legality and costs of surrogacy vary widely between jurisdicton, sometimes resulting in interstate or international surrogacy arrangements.
There are laws in some countries which restrict and regulate surrogacy and the consequences of surrogacy. Some couples or individuals wanting a child in this manner but who live in a jurisdiction which does not permit surrogacy in the circumstance in which they find themselves may travel to another jurisdiction which permits it.
Types of surrogacy
The fertilization of the surrogate may take place in a number of ways, each of which has implications for the genetic relationship of the resulting child with the surrogate and the future parents. There are two main types of surrogacy: gestantion surrogacy and traditional surrogacy. In the United States, gestational surrogacy is more common than traditional surrogacy and is considered less legally complex.
Traditional surrogacy ( also known as partial or genetic surrogacy) involves natural and artificial insemination of surrogate. If the intended father’s sperm is used in the insemination, then in the resulting child is genetically related to the intended father and genetically related to surrogate. If donar sperm is used, the resulting child is not genetically related to either intended parents but is genetically related to the surrogate.
In some cases, an insemination may be performed privately by the parties without the intervention of a doctor or physician. In some jurisdictions, the ‘commissioning parents’ using donor sperms need to go through an adoption process in order to have legal rights in respect to the resulting child. Many fertility centers which provide for surrogacy assist the parties through the process.
Gestational surrogacy (also known as host or full surrogacy) was first achieved in April 1986. It takes place when an embroy created by invitro fertilization (IVF) technology is implanted in a surrogate, sometimes called a gestational carrier. Gestational surrogacy may take a number of forms, but in each form the resulting child is genetically unrelated to the surrogate:
- the embryo is created using the intended father’s sperm and the intended mother’s eggs. The resulting child is genetically related to both intended parents.
- the embryo is created using the intended father’s sperm and a donor egg where the donor is not the surrogate. The resulting child is genetically related to the intended father.
- the embryo is created using the intended mother’s egg and donor sperm. The resulting child is genetically related to the intended mother.
- a donor embryo is implanted in a surrogate. Such an embryo may be available when others undergoing IVF have embryos left over, which they donate to others. The resulting child is genetically unrelated to the intended parent.
India is a main destination for surrogacy. Indian surrogates have been increasingly popular with intended parents in industrialized nations because of the relatively low cost. Indian clinics are at the same time becoming more competitive, not just in the pricing, but in the hiring and retention of Indian females as surrogates. Clinics charge patients between $10,000 and $28,000 for the complete package, including fertilization, the surrogate’s fee, and delivery of the baby at a hospital. Including the costs of flight tickets, medical procedures and hotels, it comes to roughly a third of the price compared with going through the procedure in the UK.
Surrogacy in India is of low cost and the laws are flexible. In 2008, the Supreme court of India in the Manji’s case (Japanese Baby) has held that commercial surrogacy is permitted in India. That has again increased the international confidence in going in for surrogacy in India. But as of 2014, a surrogacy ban was placed on homosexual couples and single parents.
There is an upcoming Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill, aiming to regulate the surrogacy business. However, it is expected to increase the confidence in clinics by sorting out dubious practitioners, and in this way stimulate the practice. “If you have power to make someone happy, do it. The world needs more of that.”