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International Surrogacy - what prospective parents need to know (part 3)

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International surrogacy arrangements have received very bad press in recent times. The proliferation of stories involving immigration complications, debates over exploitation and lengthy delays in establishing parentage, may have resulted in would-be parents changing their minds about having a child via this method.

Whilst there are risks involved with becoming a parent via international surrogacy arrangements, couples who have obtained the necessary advice and taken the necessary precautions can help protect themselves against these risks. This series of articles examines some of the issues that prospective parents should seek legal advice on. This week’s article considers the importance of prospective parents researching the surrogacy clinic and understanding the ethical implications of their proposed arrangement.

Researching the surrogacy clinic and ethical considerations

Many commissioning parents who seek an international surrogacy arrangement will do so via a clinic. These clinics will charge fees for the role they play in matching a surrogate with the commissioning parents and providing the medical tests and treatment before, during and after pregnancy. Commissioning parents may already be in contact with a fertility agency that works with fertility clinics abroad but they should also do their own investigations into the clinic and its reputation. Whilst some clinics may have a very good track record, there are those that may be less reputable. There are concerns that surrogates, especially in countries where the population is poorer, could be vulnerable to exploitation by such clinics and the phenomenon known as “surrogacy tourism”, which has led to countries such as India deciding to ban surrogacy to foreign couples.

It is therefore wise that commissioning couples are mindful of the clinic through which they proceed with the surrogacy. Using the internet and local knowledge may be helpful in this respect. Of course, another major consideration when choosing the clinic will be the quality of pre and post natal screening and care for the unborn child and the surrogate mother. The level and quality of screenings and care provided by the clinic should be thoroughly investigated by prospective commissioning parents, especially so where donor eggs and/or sperm will be used.

If you would like any further advice regarding this, or any other, family law issue please contact a member of our specialist Family Law Team.