International surrogacy: The rocky landscape


In this post, Pink Families explores surrogacy from an international perspective. We reveal some of the differences within what is sometimes described as the rocky landscape of international surrogacy.

Surrogacy laws around the world

The laws and regulations regarding surrogacy vary between countries. They also sometimes vary within countries.

These variations have created a minefield of complicated practice and a sometimes very profitable international surrogacy industry.

Finance aside, the international surrogacy industry also makes the option of having a baby a reality for many. This global industry therefore provides a very important service to many prospective parents.

Altruistic and commercial surrogacy

Altruistic surrogacy is where the surrogate chooses to carry the child for a reason other than financial gain. Altruistic surrogacy is legally permissible in a number of countries. For example, it is legal in the UK, Israel, Mexico and Australia.

Commercial surrogacy is where there is a financial payment of some sort to the surrogate for carrying and giving birth to the child. Commercial surrogacy is illegal in many countries. For example, commercial surrogacy is illegal in the UK due to the surrogacy arrangements act (2005).

Commercial surrogacy is also illegal in New Zealand, although clinic-assisted surrogacy is legal. In New Zealand, altruistic surrogacy is possible following a lengthy assessment process. Admittedly, this process can be difficult for gay men to go through. It’s possible though that this process may become easier now that same-sex marriage is legal in New Zealand.

Surrogacy for gay men has recently become legal in some parts of Australia. This was illustrated relatively recently by a gay couple that had a child through surrogacy in Queensland.

Patchwork of surrogacy legislation in the US

In the US, surrogacy legislation is handled by each state. This means that some states allow surrogacy while others don’t. In some states both altruistic and commercial surrogacy are allowed. The different laws throughout the country has resulted in a patchwork of surrogate laws.

This means that if you live in the US and you are thinking of using surrogacy you will need to consider your options very carefully. For example, to begin with it’s important to consider where the surrogate contract was established, where the birth will take place and where the surrogate lives.

Surrogacy in India

Recently, there have been changes to surrogacy laws in India. These new changes have made it impossible for same-sex couples, and lesbian and gay individuals to access surrogacy services. Up until recently estimates showed that about one third of all people requesting surrogate services in India were lesbian or gay-identifying. This number will undoubtedly decrease with the new laws in India.

Countries where surrogacy is illegal

Some countries don’t allow surrogacy at all. For example, surrogacy is illegal in Italy, Germany, Pakistan, Japan and Sweden.


Armour KL. An overview of surrogacy around the world: trends, questions and ethical issues. Nursing for Women’s Health 2012; 231-236.

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