As surrogacy becomes a more and more common adjunct to infertility issues, options seem to meet demands. But as a couple who is seeking surrogacy, you are faced with a multitude of choices and information regarding the best way to approach the subject, and consequently, your soon to be family. Surrogacy law and availability vary greatly throughout the modern world, with some of the best and easiest programs available in some of the most unlikely places. Here, arguably the two best options for American couples: the US based surrogacy programs and the Ukraine surrogacy programs are weighed against laws and practices in other countries.
Surrogacy in the United States
While the subject of surrogacy is contentious in some states, and outright banned in others, there are still some states that not only allow it, but have very progressive laws towards it. As surrogacy and surrogacy related legal issues are left in the hands of the state legislature, laws regarding such procedures can vary greatly. Some have merely developed common law regimes for dealing with these specialty circumstances. California, touted as one of the most surrogate friendly states in the US, boasts laws allowing both commercial and altruistic forms of surrogacy, as well as additional litigious support for homosexual couples and non-married partners. Generally, in the US, only gestational surrogacy is allowed or lawfully protected, and traditional surrogacy finds little or no support. Intended parents from non-surrogacy friendly states can still enjoy the benefits of surrogacy allowing that the gestational mother is from a state that recognises surrogacy and its’ legal proceedings.
Surrogacy in the Ukraine
Being one of the first nations in the European Union to actualize the legality of surrogacy, surrogacy programs in the Ukraine have gained a reputation as some of the most friendly and well represented surrogacy programs in the world. Surrogacy laws were first enacted in 2002, but the first extracorporeal fertilization was performed in 1991, with their history in reproductive assistance going back into the 1980’s. Laws concerning Ukraine surrogacy are weighted heavily in favor of the biological parents, with the gestational mother having no right towards the child from conception on. Stumbling blocks for some intending families include provisions that require that the couple be heterosexual, married, and provide medical evidence against them having the ability to conceive a child through natural means. There are caveats to these stipulations however, that allow single women to be impregnated by donor sperm or eggs. Thus allowing a backdoor for homosexual couples to still be able to achieve a surrogate-born child being treated as a single man/woman. However, these stumbling blocks are largely overshadowed by the more progressive reproductive rights that allow for intended parents to select the gender of their child, and allow for both egg and sperm donation, requiring genetic material from only one of the intended parents. The costs associated with Ukraine surrogacy are also comparatively lower than those of many other programs throughout the nations of the world.
Surrogacy in France, Iceland, and Germany
Shockingly, these nations, which have been found to be supremely progressive in many other areas concerning human rights, have ruled surrogacy by any means (commercial or altruistic) to be unquestioningly illegal. France has even gone as far as to enact legislation that states “if any couple makes an arrangement with another person that she is to bear the husband’s child and surrender it upon birth to the couple…the couple making such an agreement or arrangement is not allowed to adopt the child. In one such instance, a couple from France procured an arrangement for Ukraine surrogacy and upon birth, they were not able to relocate their new daughters (they had twins) back to France, but instead have been forced to stay in the Ukraine in order to keep their family together.
Surrogacy in Australia and Canada
In both Australia and Canada, altruistic surrogacy is legal, however commercial surrogacy is strictly forbidden and highly illegal. There are two notable exceptions to the overall legislation on surrogacy in each of these nations: in Australia, there have been provisions set in place that make it legal for homosexual couple to obtain surrogate-born children and IVF, and in Quebec, Canada, neither commercial nor altruistic surrogacy is recognized. Even though commercial surrogacy is illegal in Canada, surrogate mothers can be reimbursed for approved expenses, but any reparation or fees for the birth itself are illegal.
Surrogacy in Greece
Greece is one of the few countries within the Schengen zone that has laws that parallel those of surrogacy in Ukraine. Much like Ukraine surrogacy, Greece allots parental rights only to the biological parents, with no rights granted to the surrogate mother. For couples who live within the Schengen zone in nations that do not allow for surrogacy, this offers a provocative option, as any child born within the Schengen zone has residential rights in any other nation that is a part of it. These laws, with respect to the European Union at large, are the most progressive out of all of the 28 countries in the EU, and it allows Greece to be the only country within the EU to have a comprehensive framework in place to regulate, and enforce surrogacy.
Hong Kong and Japan
Both countries have criminalized commercial surrogacy with strict penalties. In 2010, Hong Kong became scrutinized for allowing one of their more prominent citizens to obtain a son of surrogate birth, reportedly from California. The news attracted so much attention and criticism that the case was reportedly referred to the authorities.
India, Thailand, and Vietnam
Legislature passed in 2015 has severely affected the laws regarding surrogacy in each of these countries. In India, as of 2015, commercial surrogacy is no longer legal. Any surrogacy that was commissioned prior to the enactment of the new law is reviewed on a case by case basis. Prior to 2015, surrogacy laws were encouraging, and the prices associated with surrogacy were incredibly low, however, following scandal riddled throughout the “surrogacy tourism” India was forced to revisit the existing legal structure. Thailand, after 2015 has banned commercial surrogacy for extranational intended parents. Now, only heterosexual, married couples that are Thailand residents are allowed to seek commercial surrogacy. Vietnam also underwent changes to surrogacy legislation in 2015, but in contrast to India and Thailand, Vietnam has allowed surrogacy for “humanitarian purposes”. The new law dictates that heterosexual, married couples, with no existing children and proof of the wife’s infertility can seek surrogacy. The surrogate must be a direct relative of either the intended parents and have already given birth successfully. A surrogate is only allowed to produce one surrogate-born offspring in her lifetime and must produce her husbands approval if she is married. The embryo requires genetic material from both of the intended parents and the process must follow IVF regulations.
While this is only a small portrait of surrogate laws throughout the world, these countries were found to have the most notable laws and practices regarding surrogacy. It is safe to say that if you are considering surrogacy to extend your family, extensive research and the use of reputable surrogate programs are suggested. But, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and throughout even the most strictly adverse countries, families everywhere have found safe and legal ways to be able to enjoy the benefits and happiness that surrogacy can provide. Further information on surrogacy can be found throughout the internet, or by asking questions directly to a local surrogacy program. Most programs are happy to assist and endeavor to find a solution that fits your family dynamic perfectly. More over, many US based surrogacy agencies offer possible solutions from around the world based on the requirements and comfort of your family. Finding the best fit, may take some work, but in the end, it’s definitely worth the time and effort.