How Does International Law Treat Surrogacy?

Surrogacy is a child-rearing option for couples that would like to have a newborn of their own, but often have obstacles that make traditional pregnancy and birth inadvisable. For example, a woman with a heart condition could jeopardize her own life and the baby by attempting pregnancy with such a delicate condition. On the other hand, a woman who has had her uterus removed by a hysterectomy to win the battle against cancer can no longer become pregnant.

In these instances, surrogacy, where another woman agrees to become pregnant on behalf of the hopeful couple, allows the dream of a newborn baby to still come true. Today, many couples leave their own country of residence to undertake the surrogacy process in another nation, but how does international law view this?

No Official Mandates

The United Nations and other international bodies have no fixed, overarching international laws yet concerning how surrogacy is treated. However, studies and investigations are currently being conducted to examine the legal, financial, and ethical implications of couples from wealthier countries going to less-developed nations for their surrogacy needs.

One reason there is no overarching, global standard for the legal treatment of surrogacy is that so many of the legal consequences that emerge from surrogacy are interactions between the laws of the country of residence for the couple and the country where surrogacy took place. In some cases, legal complications arise due to a lack of regulation or precedent in one country or another.

For example, a case with a Norwegian couple resulted in their twins, born to a surrogate mother in India, being declared “stateless” and without recognized citizenship rights anywhere. Norway refused to issue passports to the twins, claiming they were Indian citizens, because the surrogate mother was, by Norwegian law, considered the legal mother and not the surrogate parent; thus, the country could not treat them as their own citizens. India, meanwhile, argued that because the hopeful parents were Norwegian, and though there was no formal recognition, they were considered the child’s parents and thus could not issue Indian citizenship to the children. This became an incredibly complex and tragic situation where the children could not stay in India, as they were not citizens, but could not enter Norway, as they were not citizens there either.

Getting On The Right Side Of The Law

This is one of the reasons why it’s crucial when thinking of going abroad for surrogacy to think beyond saving costs on the surrogacy itself. Some countries, like Georgia, already have comprehensive laws that firmly lay out legal custody of surrogate children. Provided that all Georgian laws are observed, such as the hopeful parents being in the country and present for the birth and reception of the newborn, the hopeful parents are officially documented on the birth certificate as being the child’s legal guardians.

This means putting in the proper application with the country of residence and ensuring that the paperwork is submitted, processed, and approved, which can take anywhere from 2-16 weeks, depending on the country of residence being returned to. For example, Americans bringing a baby home must wait 2-3 weeks before citizenship is approved. On the other hand, parents returning to the United Kingdom may wait between 8-16 weeks.

Beyond this, however, there are also the types of facilities hopeful parents will want to use to ensure a safe, successful surrogate pregnancy. Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, has many such suitable facilities, including:

GGRC Clinic

The GGRC clinic has specialized surrogacy support, such as helping a couple find an appropriate surrogate mother. They can also assist in legal concerns in the latter stages after birth. This clinic is highly recommended for couples wanting a comprehensive start-to-finish process for surrogacies.

Zhordania IVF Center

The Zhordania center in Tbilisi offers in In Vitro Fertilization procedures and has the lab equipment and personnel for this service. The IVF process allows hopeful parents to use a donated egg and sperm for lab-supervised fertilization, which is then implanted in the surrogate mother. A good option for couples that want a direct genetic descendant.

Chachava Medical Center

Chachava Medical Center has a historical legacy within the Tbilisi medical industry. The medical center has served the needs of the citizenry for over a century, first going into operation in 1875. Today, however, it welcomes not just locals but international patients as well. Beyond treating people’s illnesses, Chachava now offers comprehensive surrogacy services, including the obstetric and gynecological-related support that may be required.

Inova IVF Center

The Inova IVF is a comparatively young medical facility since it only went into operation in 2015. That also means that the center offers only the latest medical technology for in vitro fertilization and experienced personnel. They also, as with other world class IVF clinics globally can assist hopeful parents with additional support such as Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis. PGD can screen fertilized eggs for hereditary disorders such as cystic fibrosis, or sickle cell anemia, so hopeful parents can implant only healthy specimens.