The History of Surrogacy: A Comprehensive Timeline



Surrogacy, an arrangement where a woman agrees to bear a child for others, has a long and complex history. This timeline offers a broad view of the evolution of surrogacy from ancient times to the present, underscoring the societal, scientific, and legislative developments that have shaped it.

Ancient Times: Surrogacy in Early Cultures

Biblical Times

One of the earliest documented instances of surrogacy is found in the Bible, specifically in the Book of Genesis. The story of Sarah and Abraham features Sarah offering her servant, Hagar, to Abraham to bear a child.

Ancient Mesopotamia

In the Code of Hammurabi from Ancient Mesopotamia, laws indicated that surrogacy was a common practice, especially for infertile wives.

19th Century: The First Artificial Insemination

The first recorded case of artificial insemination occurred in 1884, when a Philadelphia physician inseminated a woman with her husband's sperm, without her knowledge or consent.

Mid-20th Century: Surrogacy Becomes a Medical Possibility


The first successful pregnancy through frozen sperm was reported in 1953, making artificial insemination a viable option for surrogacy.


The birth of Louise Brown in England, the first baby conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF), revolutionized the world of assisted reproductive technologies, laying the groundwork for gestational surrogacy.

Late 20th Century: Surrogacy Enters Legal Discourse


The Baby M case in 1986 brought surrogacy into the legal and public discourse in the United States. This case led to the prohibition of commercial surrogacy in several states.


Throughout the 1990s, countries around the world began legislating surrogacy. Some, like the UK and Australia, allowed altruistic surrogacy but prohibited commercial surrogacy. Others, like India and Russia, permitted commercial surrogacy.

21st Century: The Continued Evolution of Surrogacy Law

Early 2000s

The early 2000s saw further legalization and regulation of surrogacy, with states such as California becoming popular surrogacy destinations due to their favorable laws.


During this period, countries like Thailand and India tightened their surrogacy laws due to concerns about exploitation, leading to a decline in 'surrogacy tourism.'


As we move into the 2020s, surrogacy continues to be a subject of intense ethical, legal, and social debate globally. This dialogue helps shape new legislation and protocols that prioritize the rights and wellbeing of all parties involved in surrogacy.


The history of surrogacy is a testament to humanity's resilience and determination to overcome reproductive challenges. As surrogacy continues to evolve, it remains crucial to ensure it upholds the highest ethical standards, respects human rights, and empowers people to create families in a safe and supportive environment.

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