Surrogacy has existed since ancient times but was considered a social stigma. Lately, surrogacy has gained popularity and acceptance among people owing to increasing use of treatment by Bollywood stars and discussion at TV shows. At present, it is gradually gaining acceptance practice among childless couples with increasing infertility and with adoption of a child still a relatively cumbersome process.

Surrogacy means when a woman carries and delivers a baby for a couple who are unable to conceive or carry a child themselves for medical or physical reasons. A woman who carries and delivers a baby is called surrogate mother. Types are:

Surrogacy is a remarkable gift of medical science and reproductive technology to the infertile couple where the wife is not able to carry a child due to following reasons:

  • Woman who has uterus cancer
  • Remove the uterus by hysterectomy
  • Abnormality in uterus
  • Woman has multiple miscarriages
  • Woman who has failed repeated IVF attempts for unexplained reasons.
  • Woman who have absence of uterus by birth but functioning ovaries
  • Woman with medical disorders such as diabetes, serious heart disease, auto-immune disorders, renal disorder or any other illness which can affect her pregnancy

In India, it’s legal but commercial surrogacy is under discussion but not yet banned. At present the surrogate can get monetary compensation. If a couple is considering surrogacy, first they book an appointment with IVF Specialist. And discuss their related queries including ethical and legal aspects of surrogacy.

A relative, a known person, as well as a person unknown to the couple, may act as a surrogate mother. Indian Council of Medical Research published guidelines for choosing surrogate mother:

  • A surrogate mother should not be over 45 years of age.
  • Must be tested for HIV and shown to be seronegative for this virus just before embryo transfer.
  • No woman may act as a surrogate more than thrice in her lifetime.
  • Must be tested for diseases including hepatitis B/C, diabetes, hypertension, other infectious diseases and also check her mental health.
  • Surrogate mother should have already given birth to one healthy child before.

Ethical and legal consideration for surrogacy

  • A surrogacy contract should include life insurance cover for surrogate mother. The surrogate mother also receives monetary compensation from the couple or individual as the case may be for agreeing to act as such surrogate.
  • IVF centre should not be involved in any monetary aspect.
  • Foreign nationals are no longer allowed surrogacy in India.
  • A child born from surrogacy shall be presumed to be the legitimate child of the married couple with all the attendant rights of parentage, support, and inheritance.
  • It’s legalised only for infertile couple who is married at least 5 years before surrogacy. Further, the woman has to be between 23-50 years of age and the man should be 26-55 years old.
  • If the surrogate is a married woman, the consent of her spouse would be required before she may act as surrogate to prevent any legal or marital dispute.
  • Surrogate should not have delivered more than 5 times including her own children.
  • Surrogate mother would not be allowed to undergo embryo transfer more than 3 times for the same couple.
  • Confidentially should always be maintained, and the right to privacy of the egg /sperm donor as well as surrogate mother should be protected.