Surrogacy has become a popular option for many couples and individuals who cannot conceive naturally. However, it’s a process that raises many legal, ethical, and medical concerns across the globe. As a result, different countries around the world regulate surrogacy in various ways.
Now, as an intended parent embark on their surrogacy journey, they often stay concerned about this fact. In the following parts of this blog, we will look into why most countries regulate surrogacy within their legal territories. Still, in order to better understand the same aspect, we must fully understand the surrogacy procedure along with its related aspects.
What is surrogacy and why it needs to be regulated?
Surrogacy is highly popular as a process that allows intended parents to seek parenthood while utilizing the services of a surrogate mother. That said, surrogacy sometimes comes as a complex procedure that involves emotions, rights, and health concerns. Moreover, because of its complexity, different countries have set up various rules and regulations to handle surrogacy.
At its core, surrogacy is about creating families. Still, it’s also about ensuring that everyone involved – the baby, the surrogate mother, and the intended parents – is protected and treated fairly. Moreover, this is why countries feel the need to set rules about it.
On the other hand, various centres and agencies conduct programs and practices without any authorization. So, the government has to bring certain rules to streamline the procedure for such agencies.
Understanding various types of surrogacy regulations across the globe!
Complete Ban: Some countries do not allow any form of surrogacy within their legal territories. Moreover, this means that no one can enter into a surrogacy agreement, and anyone who does might face legal consequences.
Besides, no surrogacy agency or IVF clinic can work within their jurisdiction while conducting any related services. Examples of such countries are Germany, Italy, Spain, Pakistan, Srilanka and China.
Partial ban: In some places, surrogacy is allowed, but the surrogate mother cannot be paid for her services. Moreover, her compensation may be strictly limited to medical and pregnancy-related expenses. Also, this type of surrogacy is called altruistic because the surrogate is not profiting from the arrangement.
For instance, commercial surrogacy is banned in Canada and only altruistic surrogacy is permitted given the fulfillment of certain rules. Also, in a country like India, only the local people can pursue surrogacy while fulfilling the criteria given by the government.
Permitting Commercial Surrogacy: Few countries allow surrogacy where the surrogate mother receives compensation beyond her medical expenses. This is called commercial surrogacy and countries like the USA allow such types of surrogacy programs.
Regulation of Intermediaries: Many countries that allow surrogacy also regulate the agencies or intermediaries that connect surrogate mothers with intended parents. That said, these rules might dictate how agencies operate, advertise, or even how much they can charge. Countries like China and Russia have drafted certain rules that regulate the operations of such intermediaries.
What common elements are included in the Surrogacy laws?
While the above are broad categories, many countries also have specific rules in place to ensure that the surrogacy process stays safe and ethical. To do that, they may bring along the following aspects and elements into the surrogacy laws.
Health and Age Requirements: There might be rules about who can be a surrogate mother. For instance, the surrogate might need to have already given birth to at least one child or be within a certain age range. That said, most of the countries bring through these regulations to ensure that the future child stays healthy and risk-free.
Legal Contracts: Certain countries might require that a legal contract be signed before any medical procedures begin. Moreover, this contract would outline the rights and responsibilities of everyone involved.
Parental Rights: After the baby is born, there are often rules about how and when the intended parents are legally recognized as the child’s parents. Moreover, the laws further outline the procedure to file for the custody of the born child.
Medical Procedures: Some countries have regulations about the medical side of surrogacy, like how many embryos can be implanted. Moreover, there are random laws about how many eggs can an egg donor donate. Besides, there are regulations on whether or not the surrogate mother can use her eggs during the surrogacy procedure.
Counselling and Support: In some countries, surrogate mothers and intended parents might be required to undergo counselling before, during, and after the surrogacy process. While this comes as an important aspect, not every country follows this notion. Still, in countries with proper regulation i.e. UK and Canada, the significance of counselling is highly evident.
Why Do Surrogacy Laws Vary So Much?
The way countries approach surrogacy often reflects their cultural, religious, and social beliefs.
For example, in some countries, the idea of a woman carrying a baby for someone else, especially for money, might not be accepted.
Moreover, this is largely because of cultural or religious beliefs. Besides, there are concerns about stopping the commoditization of surrogacy within these countries.
In others, the rights of the child might be a significant concern, leading to strict rules to ensure the child’s well-being.
On the other hand, there are countries that might be worried about surrogate exploitation. This is due to the unpopular belief that poor women are taken advantage of by richer intended parents.
Main Challenges of Varied Regulations related to surrogacy
Because surrogacy laws vary from one country to another, it can lead to certain challenges listed below.
Cross-Border Surrogacy: In regions where surrogacy is banned or heavily restricted, few individuals might travel to other countries where it’s allowed. That said, as they come back with the baby, they might face legal issues in their home country.
Exploitation Concerns: In countries where there’s a lack of strict regulation, there might be concerns about the exploitation of surrogate mothers.
Legal Parentage Issues: If the laws aren’t clear, there can be disputes about who the legal parents of the child are. Moreover, this would come as distressing for everyone involved.
Surrogacy brings hope to many families worldwide. Still, it also brings up complex ethical and legal issues. As a result, countries have developed a range of regulations to address these challenges. That said, while the specifics vary, the primary aim of these laws is to ensure the rights and well-being of the child, the surrogate mother, and the intended parents. Hence, if you’re considering surrogacy, it’s essential to be aware of and understand the laws in the relevant country or countries to ensure a smooth and legal process.