What is surrogacy?

5 August 2019

Many people have heard of the word but few know what it actually is.  Below we explore what surrogacy and set out the different types.

In its simplest terms, surrogacy is where a woman carries and gives birth to a child for another couple or individual.  People choose to have a child through surrogacy for a variety of reasons, for example, inability to conceive or carry a child, failed IVF attempts, medical conditions which make a natural pregnancy dangerous or same-sex male couples wanting to start a family.

There are different types of surrogacy.  Gestational surrogacy is where the baby is not genetically related to the surrogate.  This is the most common type of surrogacy arrangement and often an embryo created using donor gametes or gametes of the intended parents is implanted into the surrogate.  Traditional surrogacy  is where the surrogate carries and gives birth to the child but also acts as the egg donor.  Donor sperm or the sperm of the intended father is used to fertilise the surrogates egg.  There is also a difference to be drawn between commercial and altruistic surrogacy which, taken at a very basic level, can be defined as follows.  An altruistic surrogacy does not involve any payment or is limited to payment of out-of-pocket expenses to a surrogate which essentially means that the surrogate's motivations are benevolent and her actions are not dependant on payment.  In contrast, commercial surrogacy involves the payment of compensation to a surrogate mother meaning that she profits from the arrangement.

The legality of surrogacy and the different types of surrogacy varies worldwide and ranges from some countries which prohibit surrogacy altogether and other countries that allow both commercial and altruistic surrogacy.

If you would like to learn more about surrogacy or have any questions on fertility law then please contact our family team who would be happy to help.

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