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Surrogacy is an arrangement whereby a woman agrees to become pregnant for the purpose of gestating and giving birth to a child for others to raise. She may be the child's genetic mother (the more traditional form of surrogacy), or she may be implanted with someone else's fertilized egg (gestational surrogacy).

Surrogacy is a method of assisted reproduction. In some cases it is the only available option for a couple who wish to have a child that is biologically related to them.



In traditional surrogacy the surrogate is pregnant with her own biological child, but this child was conceived with the intention of relinquishing the child to be raised by others; often by the biological father and possibly his partner.

In gestational surrogacy the surrogate is pregnant, via embryo transfer, with a child of which she is not the biological mother. She may be intending to relinquish it to the biological mother to raise, or to a parent who is themselves unrelated to the child (eg, because the child was conceived using egg donation and/or sperm donation).

Altruistic surrogacy is a situation where the surrogate is not receiving financial reward for her pregnancy or the relinquishment of the child (sometimes with the exception of medical expenses associated with the pregnancy or birth).[1] Commercial surrogacy is a type of surrogacy in which the surrogate is being paid for her pregnancy and the relinquishment of the child. It is typically combined with gestational surrocacy.

A surrogate mother or birth mother is the woman who is pregnant with the child.[1] The word surrogate, from Latin subrŏgare (to substitute), means appointed to act in the place of.[citation needed] The commissioning parents are the individual or persons who intend to rear the child after its birth.[1]

There is a tendency now to limit the term 'surrogacy' to only mean 'gestational surrogacy'.[citation needed]


Having another woman bear a child for a couple to raise, usually with the male half of the couple as the genetic father, is referred to in antiquity. For example, the book of Genesis relates the story of Sarah's servant Hagar bearing a child to Abraham for Sarah and Abraham to raise.

Attorney Noel Keane is generally recognized as the creator of the legal idea of surrogate motherhood. However, it was not until he developed an association with physician Warren J. Ringold in the city of Dearborn, Michigan that the idea became feasible. Dr. Ringold agreed to perform all of the artificial inseminations, and the clinic grew rapidly in the early part of 1981. Though Keane and Ringold were widely criticized by some members of the press and politicians, they continued and eventually advocated for the passage of laws that protected the idea of surrogate motherhood. Bill Handel, who is a partner in a Los Angeles, Surrogacy firms, also attempted to have such laws passed in California, but his attempts were struck down in the State Congress. Presently, the idea of surrogate motherhood has gained some societal acceptance and laws protecting the contractual arrangements exist in eight states.[2]

In the United States, the issue of surrogacy was widely publicised in the case of Baby M, in which the surrogate and biological mother of Melissa Stern ("Baby M"), born in 1986, refused to cede custody of Melissa to the couple with whom she had made the surrogacy agreement. The courts of New Jersey eventually awarded custody to Melissa's biological father William Stern and his wife Elizabeth Stern, rather than to the surrogate Mary Beth Whitehead.


Commissioning parents may commission a surrogate pregnancy either because a woman who intends to parent is infertile and cannot carry a pregnancy to term. Alternatively, the commissioning parent may be male, or multiple men (most usually a homosexual couple) who want to rear a child without a female parent.


Typically, there is a default legal assumption in most countries that the woman giving birth to a child is that child's legal mother. In some jurisdictions the possibility of surrogacy has been allowed and the commissioning parents may be recognised as the legal parents from birth. In others the possibility of surrogacy is either not recognised, or is prohibited.

Commercial surrogacy arrangements are illegal in France, Washington, Michigan, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and New York. Additionally, four states have held that such contracts, while not illegal, are unenforceable. California is widely recognized as one of the most friendly jurisdictions for parties desiring to enter into a surrogacy arrangement. [3]


In all states in Australia, the surrogate mother is deemed by the law to be the legal mother of the child as well, and any surrogacy agreement giving custody to others is void. In addition in many states arranging commercial surrogacy is a criminal offence, although New South Wales has no legislation governing surrogacy at all.[4] In 2006 Australian senator Stephen Conroy and his wife Paula Benson announced that they had arranged for a child to be born through egg donation and gestational surrogacy. Unusually, Conroy was put on the birth certificate as the father of the child. Usually couples who make surrogacy arrangments in Australia must adopt the child rather than being recognised as birth parents, particularly if the surrogate mother is married. [5] [6] After the announcement, Conroy's home state of Victoria announced that they were reconsidering the Victorian laws that make surrogacy within the state almost impossible.[7]

Emotional issues

A study by the Family and Child Psychology Research Centre at City University, London, UK in 2002 concluded that surrogate mothers rarely had difficulty relinquishing rights to a surrogate child and that the commissioning mothers showed greater warmth to the child than mothers conceiving naturally.[citation needed]

Fictional representation

In Robert A. Heinlein's 1961 science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land, TV reporters exult that socialite Cynthia Duchess has decided to have the Perfect Baby, with the use of a sperm donor, an egg donor, and a surrogate mother.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Glossary. Reproductive Technology Council. Retrieved on 2008-01-06.
  2. ^ Map of laws by jurisdiction from The American Surrogacy Center (TASC)
  3. ^ California Surrogancy Law from TASC
  4. ^ National Health and Medical Research Council (2007-05-09). Reproductive technology: Legislation around Australia. Retrieved on 2008-01-04.
  5. ^ Coorey, Phillip. "And baby makes five - the senator, his wife and the surrogate mothers", The Sydney Morning Herald, 2006-11-07. Retrieved on 2008-01-04. (English) 
  6. ^ Nader, Carol. "Senator wins paternity battle", The Age, 2007-12-03. Retrieved on 2008-01-04. (English) 
  7. ^ Australian Associated Press. "Surrogacy laws being reviewed, says Premier",, 2006-11-07. Retrieved on 2008-01-04. (English) 

  • A resource for women interested in becoming surrogates
  • Information about the surrogacy process & information for finding or becoming a surrogate mother
  • French High Court Rules Surogacy Illegal
  • Surrogacy UK - The organisation formed to support and inform anyone with an interest in surrogacy within the UK
  • Personal Accounts of Surrogate Mothers & Intended Parents
  • A video on how money, science, and politics play a role in the issue of surrogacy in the United States
  • Surrogacy - the issues
  • An Online Community of Surrogate Mothers, Intended Parents and Egg Donors
  • A Virtual Meeting Ground for the Surrogacy Community
  • ‘Knowing’ the Surrogate Body in Israel by Dr. Elly Teman
  • Indian women carrying babies for well-off buyers, 'Wombs for rent' pleases women and customers, but raises ethical questions; Monday, December 31, 2007; The Associated Press; CBC News; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
  • Paid surrogacy driven underground in Canada: CBC report; Wednesday, May 2, 2007; CBC News; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
  This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Surrogacy". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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