According to the BBC, “there are no internationally recognised laws for surrogacy,” which means international surrogacy is a legal grey area. While surrogacy is legal in the United States, countries like Spain, France, and Italy prohibit all forms of surrogacy, and commercial surrogacy (paying the surrogate mother a fee) is illegal in the United Kingdom.
In California, surrogacy and commercial surrogacy are both legal, but they can be extremely expensive. As such, some American seek commercial surrogacy in other countries where it is legal, such as Russia, Ukraine, and even Mexico.
While surrogacy costs an average of $100,000 in the United States, it may only cost $45,000 in Mexico.
Is International Surrogacy Safe?
Still, many intended parents prefer to stay in the United States – particularly California – because there are “established frameworks” for commercial surrogacy.
Meanwhile, other countries are still working on laws to support surrogacy, so intended parents have few options if an arrangement goes wrong.
Additionally, intended parents who hire international surrogates may have trouble bringing their baby to the United States because they will not be automatically recognized as legal parents, and their baby was born overseas.
Worse, some intended parents have left children born with disabilities to surrogate mothers, who must then assume legal and financial responsibility for the child.
Due to reports of exploitation, commercial surrogacy was outlawed in Thailand, India, and Nepal.
Is International Surrogacy Ethical?
Without laws (and lawyers) to protect both intended and gestational parents, many argue that international surrogacy is not ethical, especially considering the economic power imbalance between nations. Women could be “forced to act as surrogate mothers for profiteers,” or even feel pressured into surrogacy by a life-changing amount of money.
In Ukraine, for example, one woman said yes to surrogacy because she was offered $11,000, which is more than three times the average yearly salary in Ukraine ($3,000) but a fraction of what surrogacy costs in the United States. Due to the growing demand, this system is ripe for exploitation, and as a Kiev-based lawyer explains:
“Commercial surrogacy Ukraine is unregulated and two-thirds of the industry operates illegally.”
Even the legal international surrogacy agencies are plagued by problems. Some Ukrainian women experience subpar healthcare during their pregnancies, and pregnancies have been lost to preventable miscarriages all because the agencies fail to monitor the health of their gestational parents.
If you are wondering whether economic surrogacy is ethical, ask yourself this: “Is the lower cost of surrogacy abroad worth the possibility that your surrogate is being financially forced into the process?”
Unless you are working with an extremely reliable agency, you cannot rule this possibility out.
That’s why many surrogacy experts are pushing for an international agreement similar to the Hague Adoption Convention.
Choosing Domestic Surrogacy
Until the rules for international surrogacy are standardized, intended parents may be better off seeking surrogacy services closer to home, and our team at Cecil Cianci Law, PC is available to help families grow in California.
Our firm will educate both you and your surrogate, so everyone involved can make informed decisions, and we will create a personalized strategy for your case.
When you choose us, you get big firm experience with a unique, small firm approach and transparent representation based on honesty and integrity.
If your family is considering surrogacy, take the next step with us. Call us at (916) 675-3866 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and find your Creative Family Solutions.