There is no doubt about the fact that surrogacy has appeared to be a viable solution for increasing infertility issues among couples and individuals. Still, given the wide variation in international surrogacy laws, most of these individuals have found it hard to get along with their surrogacy aspirations.
That said, we will look through the laws and regulations across various countries in Asia, Europe, and America in the following parts of this blog. Besides, we will look into why a uniform legal framework regarding an international surrogacy agency is the need of the hour.
Surrogacy in Asia
Asia comes along as a continent with a rich diversity of cultures, economic conditions, and legal systems. Moreover, due to supportive regulations and affordable surrogacy options, countries like India, Nepal, and Thailand have historically been deemed important surrogacy hubs in the past.
This is where the demand for surrogates in these countries increased, resulting in a rise in “surrogacy tourism” by individuals or couples from countries like USA, UK and Canada. However, a lack of adequate surrogacy regulation frequently resulted in surrogate abuse and legal issues for the intended parents. As a result of these issues, nations like India and Thailand have brought strict regulations, restricting surrogacy to only the local citizens and with altruistic purposes among immediate family members. Moreover, these countries also outlawed international surrogacy within their legal territories. However, the lack of adequate regulation in other countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, China and Laos means that surrogacy remained a complicated subject in Asia.
India: surrogacy is currently permitted to only local citizens and they must abide by the surrogacy regulation bill 2019. Besides, they have to further confirm their inability to conceive naturally before getting ahead with a surrogacy program. Moreover, one has to furnish a list of documents before applying for a surrogacy program in the country.
China: China has put an outright ban on all kinds of surrogacy practices in the country. As per a ruling from the government a few years back, all kinds of surrogacy-related practices are banned in this part of the world. Moreover, any violation of the same law may attract strict punishment.
Thailand: Just like India, Thailand has also permitted surrogacy only for the local citizens of the country. That way, international surrogacy isn’t permitted in the country. Moreover, the same has been brought into practice after a list of unfortunate incidents in the country.
Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka has also banned all kinds of surrogacy-related activities within its legal jurisdiction. Moreover, not even surrogacy for local citizens is permitted in the country. So, if you are someone residing in the country, you may have to opt for international surrogacy in some other country.
Surrogacy in Europe
Europe, in contrast, offers a more regulated environment with notable variations. While some European nations, like France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, ban surrogacy, others, like Ukraine and Georgia, do permit surrogacy. On the other side, altruistic surrogacy in the UK, Greece, and Belgium is permitted but is subject to strict regulations and formalities. Besides, the Council of Europe has called for uniform international surrogacy laws to stop surrogacy tourism and potential exploitation, but it is difficult to reach an agreement among countries with different cultural and ethical traditions.
UK: Surrogacy is permitted for everyone, irrespective of their sexual preferences in this country. Still, one has to abide by the legal regulations and laws related to surrogacy. On the other side, you cannot put through ad commercials in order to hire the services of a surrogate mother. Besides, no surrogacy agency can assist the intended parents for profit in this regard. So, the best option is to go along with certain non-profit surrogacy agencies in the country. Besides, only altruistic surrogacy is permitted as of now.
Ukraine: surrogacy in Ukraine is only permissible for married heterosexual couples in the country. Besides, one has to prove their eligibility for the surrogacy program by providing certain documents. On the other hand, the intended parents are the legal parents of the child even before its birth. Still, given its political issues with the neighbouring country Russia, Ukraine is currently in a war-like situation. So, we won’t advise you to go ahead with any surrogacy program right now.
Georgia: As of now, there are no pre-defined surrogacy regulations in the country. So, everyone, regardless of their gender, sex and preferences, can pursue a surrogacy program in the country.
Surrogacy in USA and Canada
USA: The United States, in particular, provides one of the most hospitable environments for surrogacy. That said, international intended parents are drawn to the states where commercial surrogacy is legal, such as Connecticut, California, and Nevada. Moreover, the nation has strong legal frameworks that uphold the rights of all parties, including pre-birth orders that formally recognize the intended parents’ parental rights even before the child is born. Nevertheless, laws differ from state to state, and some still forbid commercial surrogacy.
Canada: Only altruistic surrogacy is permitted in Canada, a country in North America, where surrogates can be reimbursed for their pregnancy-related costs but cannot receive any additional compensation. On the other hand, the surrogate is subjected to receive all the right care and support during her pregnancy period.
Vastly different surrogacy environments across the globe can be attributed to cultural, ethical, religious, and socioeconomic considerations. Moreover, many European countries are motivated by ethical concerns about the commodification of the human body and potential coercion, while Asian countries struggle with ethical and exploitation issues related to commercial surrogacy. On the other hand, although inconsistently across states, America has managed to strike a balance with regulated commercial surrogacy.
Despite these regional variations, it is clear that a globally accepted legal system is the need of the hour. Also, this would safeguard surrogates’ rights, discourage “surrogacy tourism,” ensure intended parents’ legal clarity, and protect surrogates’ rights. That said, such a framework is currently being developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law, which has the potential to completely alter surrogacy practices around the world.
Summing it up, we can say that surrogacy is highly preferred as a solution for infertility all over the world, though it is not universally accepted or regulated. While America strikes a balance between permissive and restrictive approaches, Europe is torn between ethical considerations and the need for surrogacy. Asia, on the other hand, struggles with ethical issues and regulatory loopholes. Hence, standardizing procedures and ensuring the protection of the rights and interests of all parties involved could be made possible by a global legal framework.