Altruistic vs. Commercial Surrogacy: A Legal Comparison Across Countries


Introduction: Altruistic and Commercial Surrogacy - Two Sides of the Same Coin

Surrogacy, an arrangement where a woman carries and delivers a child for another individual or couple, comes in two forms: altruistic and commercial. Altruistic surrogacy involves the surrogate receiving no payment beyond reasonable expenses, while commercial surrogacy allows the surrogate to be paid for her services. The legality of these two forms of surrogacy varies drastically worldwide. This article aims to provide a comparative analysis of the legal stance on altruistic and commercial surrogacy across different countries.

United States: A Patchwork of State Laws

In the United States, both altruistic and commercial surrogacy are legally permitted, though regulations vary by state. Some states, like California, are known as surrogacy-friendly and have clear legal frameworks that protect the rights of all parties in both altruistic and commercial surrogacy arrangements.

Canada: Emphasis on Altruism

Canada only allows altruistic surrogacy, making commercial surrogacy illegal. Surrogates may be reimbursed for pregnancy-related expenses but are not paid for their services. This model is designed to protect surrogates from potential exploitation.

United Kingdom: Strict Regulations and a Focus on Altruistic Surrogacy

In the United Kingdom, only altruistic surrogacy is legally recognized. Commercial surrogacy contracts are not enforceable under UK law. Surrogates may be reimbursed for reasonable expenses, and intended parents must apply for a parental order after the child's birth to obtain legal parenthood.

Ukraine: Favorable Legislation for Commercial Surrogacy

Ukraine is one of the few countries where commercial surrogacy is legal, making it a popular destination for international intended parents. However, this option is limited to heterosexual, married couples and single women, thereby excluding certain categories of intended parents.

India: A Shift Towards Altruistic Surrogacy

India was once a hub for commercial surrogacy but has made significant changes to its legislation. Now, only altruistic surrogacy is allowed, and it is restricted to Indian citizens who have been legally married for at least five years. This shift aims to address ethical concerns related to commercial surrogacy.

Conclusion: Understanding the Global Stance on Altruistic and Commercial Surrogacy

Understanding the laws surrounding altruistic and commercial surrogacy is crucial for anyone considering surrogacy as a pathway to parenthood. While some countries allow both forms of surrogacy, others permit only altruistic surrogacy to safeguard the interests of all parties involved.

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