When Did Surrogacy Become Legal

When Did Surrogacy Become Legal?

Surrogacy, the practice of a woman carrying a pregnancy for another person or couple, has a long and complex history. The legality of surrogacy varies from country to country and has evolved over time. In this article, we will explore the timeline of when surrogacy became legal in different parts of the world and the associated regulations.

Surrogacy has been present in various forms throughout history, but it wasn’t until the late 20th century that it gained legal recognition. In the United States, surrogacy first captured public attention in the famous Baby M case of 1986. The case involved a surrogate mother, Mary Beth Whitehead, who decided to keep the child she was carrying for another couple. This contentious legal battle sparked a nationwide debate on the ethics and legality of surrogacy.

Following the Baby M case, the United States started establishing legal frameworks to regulate surrogacy. However, the laws differ from state to state. Some states, like California, have more permissive legislation that supports both traditional and gestational surrogacy, while others, like New York, have more restrictive laws. It is important to consult with an attorney familiar with the surrogacy laws in the specific state before proceeding.

In the United Kingdom, the law surrounding surrogacy began to take shape in 1985 with the Surrogacy Arrangements Act. This act made commercial surrogacy agreements unenforceable, but it did allow for altruistic surrogacy where the surrogate receives only reasonable expenses. Regulations were further strengthened in 2008 with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, which clarified the parental rights of intended parents and established a legal process for obtaining a parental order.

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India emerged as a popular surrogacy destination in the late 1990s due to its relatively low-cost services and lack of strict regulations. However, concerns about exploitation and unethical practices led the Indian government to introduce the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Regulation Bill in 2010. This bill aimed to regulate and monitor the surrogacy industry, prohibiting commercial surrogacy for foreigners and limiting it to Indian married couples. In 2019, a complete ban on commercial surrogacy was enacted, allowing only altruistic surrogacy for Indian citizens.

In 2002, the Hague Conference on Private International Law recognized the need for international surrogacy regulations. The result was the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, which came into effect in 2005. While this convention primarily focuses on adoption, it also addresses some issues related to surrogacy, such as the recognition of legal parentage across borders.

The legal landscape surrounding surrogacy continues to evolve as more countries grapple with the complexities of this reproductive practice. Some countries have banned surrogacy altogether, like Germany and France, citing ethical concerns and potential exploitation of women. Others, such as Canada and certain Australian states, permit only altruistic surrogacy, where the surrogate can only be compensated for reasonable expenses.


Q: Is surrogacy legal everywhere?
A: No, surrogacy is not legal everywhere. The laws regarding surrogacy vary greatly from country to country, and even within different states or regions of the same country.

Q: Can same-sex couples pursue surrogacy?
A: In many countries where surrogacy is legal, same-sex couples are allowed to pursue surrogacy. However, there may be additional legal considerations or restrictions depending on the jurisdiction.

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Q: Are there age restrictions for intended parents?
A: Age restrictions for intended parents can vary depending on the country or fertility clinic involved. Some jurisdictions may have specific age limits, while others may assess each case individually.

Q: How much does surrogacy cost?
A: The cost of surrogacy varies widely depending on the country, the specific agency or clinic, and the individual circumstances. In countries where commercial surrogacy is allowed, the costs tend to be higher due to the compensation involved.

Q: What are the ethical concerns surrounding surrogacy?
A: Ethical concerns regarding surrogacy include potential exploitation of women, the commodification of reproduction, and the emotional impact on the surrogate mother and the child. These concerns highlight the importance of having appropriate legal regulations in place to protect all parties involved.

In conclusion, the legal status of surrogacy has undergone significant changes over the years. While some countries have embraced and regulated surrogacy, others have banned or restricted it due to ethical concerns. As surrogacy continues to gain popularity as an option for building families, it is crucial for intended parents and surrogates to navigate the legal landscape carefully and seek professional guidance to ensure a smooth and legally compliant process.