After sightseeing and medical tourism, the latest reason for people to travel to foreign countries is surrogacy. In recent years surrogacy has become a fascinating option in the world of fertility treatment, making it possible for infertile women to legally pursue their dreams of building families through a surrogate mother.
Surrogacy could be of great help where the woman is not able to produce a child, either due to the infertility or is missing part of her uterus. In this arrangement, the egg from the woman and the sperm from her male partner are taken and fertilized externally. The laboratory-created embryos are transferred to another woman's (the surrogate) womb.
In some cases, a donor egg or sperm may be used in conjunction with the commissioning father's sperm or mother's egg in order to form an embryo.
Surrogacy: The Phenomenon
The surrogacy tourism is skyrocketing rapidly around the world, thanks to the dramatic increase in the number of childless and infertile people who are now increasingly opting for surrogacy. Many of these infertile patients have started seeking inexpensive surrogacy arrangement in low and middle-income countries.
Hospitals and fertility clinics in countries like India, Mexico and Thailand specialize in fertility treatments, such as IVF, IUI, ICSI and artificial insemination.
Also, there is an abundance of surrogacy clinics and LGBT friendly facilities in these countries that offer surrogacy services to straight and same sex couples. India, specifically, has become the land of opportunity for childless couples and singles who wish to experience the joys of parenthood, thanks to the surprisingly cheaper cost of surrogacy, fewer legal hassles, easy availability of surrogates and hassle-free procedure in this newly industrialized Asian country.
By some estimates, over 2 million babies are born via surrogate mothers around the world. In the United States, an estimated 1,400 babies are arriving via surrogacy every year, and it has been reported that between 1977 and 1992 approximately 5,000 surrogate births took place in the country. In 2010, surrogate mothers in India gave birth to an estimated 1500 babies for domestic and foreign people.
Apart from the cost and ease of procedure, another factor that gave a significant boost to surrogacy tourism is the surrogacy legislation. As the laws are so complex and restrictive in many European and Western countries, a number of hopeful parents are turning to other countries where surrogates are permitted to receive money in exchange for their services.
Laws in Different Countries
Around the world, each country has individual laws and regulations regarding surrogacy and its commercialization.
Several countries including Egypt, France, Germany, the Netherlands and some states of the United States have criminalized paid surrogacy, mainly due to the concerns that women may be coerced, or even forced, to become surrogates.
In the United States, laws for surrogacy differ greatly from state to state. The US states including California, Illinois, Arkansas, and Maryland, facilitate surrogacy and surrogacy contracts. The states that have restricted the practice of paid surrogacy include New York, Michigan, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Washington.
In France, Italy and Iceland both kinds of surrogacy, commercial or altruistic, is a criminal offense.
In Hungary, it is an offence to make or receive payment for surrogacy and advertising or arranging a surrogate mother for money is a criminal offence.
Across Australia the laws vary by states, with some having no legislation governing surrogacy at all. In Queensland, surrogacy is illegal, while in Tasmania paid surrogacy is an offence, and in South Australia and Victoria commercial surrogacy is illegal.
In New Zealand, surrogate mothers are not allowed to accept payment, but surrogacy without any payment is lawful.
In Hong Kong, paying a surrogate is an offense under the Human Reproductive Technology Ordinance 2000.
In the United Kingdom, commercial surrogacy is unlawful, strictly prohibited by the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985.
Surrogacy has become so popular due largely to the increasing infertility rates combined with an increasing number of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) population around the world.
Surrogacy is successful for those childless couples who are not in a position to carry a pregnancy themselves, due to infertility or any other ovulation disorder.
Infertility affects more than 7 million men and women in the United States, and about 12 percent of women of childbearing age are considered infertile. Most infertile people overcome their struggle with infertility with hospital treatment, including drug or hormone therapies or surgery, but for some no amount of medical treatment can help.
This is where surrogacy comes and works like a miracle.
What is Surrogacy?
Surrogacy can be defined as an arrangement whereby a woman willingly agrees to carry a pregnancy and give birth to a baby for another couple or person.
All surrogacy arrangements involve a woman, known as a surrogate, and an individual or couple, usually called the intended parents.
The word "surrogate" means a person that functions as a substitute or replacement for another person. A surrogate mother thus is a woman who rents out her womb to another couple so that they can have their own biological baby.
The surrogate mother becomes pregnant usually by artificial insemination, using the sperm of either the intended father or a sperm donor, or surgical implantation of a fertilized egg with the intention of giving the child she becomes pregnant with to someone else to raise.
There are two basic types of surrogacy options- Full surrogacy (also known as Host or Gestational surrogacy) and Partial surrogacy (also known Straight or Traditional surrogacy).
Gestational surrogacy - It is the most common of type of surrogacy. In this type of arrangements are involved the intended parents of the child and the surrogate mother who agrees to carry the embryo(s) made either from:
1. the egg(s) and sperm of the intended parents.
2. a donated egg fertilized with sperm from the intended father prior to implantation, via a process called in vitro fertilization or IVF.
3. an embryo created using donor eggs and donor sperm selected by the intended parents.
In this form of surrogacy, the surrogate mother is not biologically or genetically related in any way to the unborn child.
Traditional Surrogacy - With this type of arrangement, a surrogate woman acts as both egg donor and surrogate. In this surrogacy arrangement, a traditional surrogate agrees to donate her egg(s) to be artificially inseminated with the sperm of either the intended father or a sperm donor.
In traditional surrogacy process, the surrogate woman is impregnated by artificial insemination or intrauterine insemination (IUI), and is genetically linked to the child she carries because her own eggs are used in the process.
These two basic types of surrogacy are further categorized into two types - commercial and altruistic.
For commercial types of surrogacy, the surrogate mother is typically paid by the intended parents to compensate her for her role as a fetus carrier. In commercial surrogacy arrangements, the intended parents or individuals pay fee to the chosen surrogate in exchange of completing their dream of being parents. The money is paid to the surrogate in order to cover her medical expenses and any other pregnancy related expenses, including travel arrangements, as well as to compensate for her time and effort.
With altruistic arrangement, the surrogate mother agrees to carry a child to maturity in her womb for another person or couple without any monetary compensation. She receives no financial reward for her pregnancy. However, she's still paid by the intended parents for all expenses related to her pregnancy and birth.
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