International Surrogacy: A Quick Take
If only there was a world map that made it easy to know where surrogacy is legal and where it is not. But nothing is that simple! What is “legal” and permitted comes in many shades and flavors, and, of course, is constantly changing. Even inside the United States it is hard to keep track of the different state rules and regulations on surrogacy (although Creative Family Connections with their US map on surrogacy law does a great job trying). For example, it used to be well-known that compensated surrogacy arrangements were not permitted in the State of Washington. That isn’t true anymore! New legislation recently passed that, effective January 1, 2019, permits compensated surrogacy in the state.
What about the rest of the world?
North America – Home, Sweet, Home
The US, as mentioned, is a mostly surrogacy-friendly hodgepodge of rules and regulations, or lack thereof. I’ve heard great things about Colorado specifically (says the unbiased Colorado resident)! In Canada, laws vary by province, but generally surrogacy compensation is not permitted. However, reasonable living expense reimbursement is allowed, and, of course, Canada has the bonus of socialized medicine. Mexico, with it’s own array of foreign-intended-parents-stuck-in-the-country type horror stories, has, for the most part, shut down surrogacy to non-Mexican citizen intended parents.
Asia – A Hot Mess
Many countries in Asia used to be go-to destinations for hopeful parents around the world. India and Thailand particularly had flourishing assisted reproductive technology practices popular for international couples. Unfortunately, a number of international surrogacy scandals -- including the Baby Gammy case where the surrogate-born twin with Down Syndrome was heartbreakingly left behind; and the Japanese business man with more than 13 babies by surrogacy -- resulted in many countries shutting down the legal practice of gestational carrier arrangements with foreign intended parents. The Chinese ban on the medical practice of surrogacy, combined with the lifting of China’s One Child Policy, has made China the largest exporter of intended parents seeking gestational surrogates in the world.
Europe – It’s Got It All
Europe is a mixture of countries that range from jurisdictions that completely ban all forms of surrogacy arrangements (Germany, Greece, Italy), to some that allow uncompensated or other forms of surrogacy arrangements with restrictions (England, Belgium), to a few that generally permit all forms of surrogacy (Ukraine and Russia).
Australia – They Aren’t Down Down Under
Australia’s specific regulations vary by state, but the country as a whole is generally anti-compensated surrogacy, thus making it difficult to find a woman volunteering to be gestational carrier. Not to mention, Australian citizens are frequent stars in Asian surrogacy scandals.
Africa and South America
I am unfairly lumping together these vary large and vary diverse continents. For the most part, neither have been popular destinations for surrogacy, at least for Americans. South Africa specifically does not permit compensated surrogacy, and has seen its own surrogacy-related controversies with criminal charges for those arranging surrogacy for payment.
To the best of my knowledge, there is no regulation related to surrogacy in Antarctica. Of course, it may not be a great location for other reasons!