Surrogacy: Reproductive Tourism

preggersSurrogacy has become a more viable option for individuals who cannot have children of their own. According to 2014 statistics, about 300-500 couples turn to surrogacy in Canada. However, there is little known about what surrogacy entails despite its growing popularity.

Surrogacy is regulated under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act.  The interested party can pay for the surrogates out -of –pocket expenses that arise throughout their pregnancy including: pre-natal vitamins, medication, childcare, maternity clothes, and travel costs.  If the surrogate is required to be on bed rest due to health complications and to protect the child, she can be reimbursed for her loss of work wages.  Many surrogacies commence with a legal contract where both parties outline their expectations, child custody, costs, and what would happen if the child was born with an abnormality. There are two lawyers one for the parents to be and one for the surrogate to assess each parties concerns.


This act permits surrogacy but forbids individuals from providing compensation for the surrogate, covering the costs of the surrogate mother’s mortgage, credit card bills or school tuition is illegal.  It is also illegal to participate in a “commercial surrogacy”; this allows the surrogate mother to be compensated for carrying the baby to term. Couples seeking surrogates are not permitted to advertise that they are willing to compensate a woman to be their surrogate. It is illegal for third-parties such as fertility clinics to collect a fee for connecting surrogate seekers with surrogates. It is also illegal for these clinics to advertise similar services. Thus, many couples must find surrogates on their own. Violating these legal provisions can result in 10 years in jail combined with a $500,000 fine.

Reproductive Tourism

indiaSurrogacy in Canada (a surrogacy support website) states that on average a gestational surrogacy usually ranges from $32,000 to $76,000+. Consequently, many Canadians are turning to other countries such as India, Thailand and Ukraine for services to mitigate costs. These countries have more lenient commercial surrogacy laws.

Many married women in India turn to surrogacy to support their families. Carrying a child to term can be comparable to 5 years of income with a median income of $60 per month. In extreme cases, some women with unemployed husbands will abort their own babies to be surrogates to ensure their family can survive. Many surrogates believe they are providing a virtuous gift to couples.

Conversely, some individuals argue Indian surrogates are being exploited for their wombs. Surrogates are often discouraged from bonding with their child. Some fertility clinics have up to 8 women in one room who are kept under constant surveillance. Some surrogates are kept in the clinic, away from their families for the nine months to ensure the surrogacy is smooth. Surrogates are taught to be virtuous and to avoid negotiating higher terms with the parents to be. Being careless throughout a pregnancy can equivocate to being a prostitute, a term that surrogates avoid at all costs.

What are your thoughts?

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If you want to learn more about Commercial Surrogacy in India read Commercial Surrogacy in India: Manufacturing a Perfect Mother-Worker by Amrita Pande. The topic is far more complex than what is mentioned in this piece. 

Some documentaries highlighting India’s surrogacy practices are listed below:

Start watching around 5:25 – Commercial surrogacy in India:

Commercial Surrogacy Exploiting Women Of The Developing World?


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