Surrogacy is a type of assisted parenting, in which a surrogate mother gives birth to a child for a couple who, for many reasons, cannot have children. There are two forms of surrogacy:
- Traditional surrogacy – where the surrogate mother’s egg is used for conception
- Gestational surrogacy – reproductive material parents are used, with the help of in vitro fertilization
Surrogacy is not a new phenomenon, and some forms of this procedure can be found in ancient civilizations. For example, in ancient Rome, there was a practice of “ventrem locare”, which resembled today’s surrogacy. It meant that a man who had a woman who had no fertility problems could temporarily “hand her over” to another man whose wife was infertile or had stillborn children. Of course, the difference from today’s surrogacy is that then it was performed naturally, while today, with the help of advanced medical technologies, it is performed through in vitro fertilization of surrogate mothers.
Advantages of surrogacy
The main advantage of surrogacy is that it allows couples, who have been facing with the problem of infertility or some other health problem that prevents them from carrying a pregnancy, and to be realized as parents.
Concerning the adoption of a child, surrogacy enables a genetic relationship with one or both parents. A genetic relationship between the child and the parent can be established because the reproductive material of one or both parents is used. It is a precisely planned and controlled pregnancy, where all risks are reduced. The intended parents are informed about the health condition of the surrogate mother. Possible hereditary diseases are excluded, which may occur during adoption. The intended parents participate during the whole process, both during fertilization and during pregnancy of surrogate mother. The surrogate mother receives compensation for the whole process, while the mother of the adopted child did not receive any money. The whole procedure takes less time compared to the adoption procedure, which is complicated and time-consuming in most countries.
In many cases, surrogacy is a successful process, without complications, both in terms of health and in terms of the legal aspect of this procedure.
Surrogacy in Serbia
Family law of Serbia still doesn’t anticipate the possibility of surrogacy. However, there are indications that the new Civil Code will contain provisions on surrogacy. A surrogacy agreement would regulate the amount of compensation for reasonable expenses caused by carrying and giving birth to another, which would be allowed only if the woman cannot conceive naturally. This innovation would be allowed in exceptional situations when conception is not possible either naturally or by other biomedically assisted conception procedures.
Allowing surrogacy in the Republic of Serbia would more consistently protect the right to start a family. Which is guaranteed by the Constitution of the RS as well as the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms.
The preliminary draft of Civil Code conceives full gestational fertilization, where the reproductive material of both parents would be used, or partial gestational fertilization, using the fertilization cells of one of the intended parents.
The contract that would be concluded on this occasion between the woman who would give birth to the child and the intended parents, who must be in a marital or extramarital union, must be certified by a notary public or in court.
As for the conditions that the surrogate mother should fulfill, apart from the health conditions that are required, she must not be with the intended parents blood relatives, in the direct line indefinitely, in the collateral line up to the 4th degree.
Also, this procedure would not be provided for single mothers, but it would be left to the court to decide if there are particularly justified reasons.
Issues in practice
Some of the potential complications that could arise, are the rights of children born in this way, the exploitation of low-income poor women whose main goal is money, as well as the moral and ethical consequences of exploiting a woman’s biological functions for commercial purposes.
Serious ethical problems are arising from the potential exploitation of women in poor countries and the danger of treating children as mere products.
This procedure brings large earnings to agencies that mediate between potential parents and surrogate mothers. The commercialization of this service can create a rational fear of possible trafficking in babies born in this way, as well as the exploitation of women that could result from the abuse of medical procedures.
Bearing in mind that surrogacy is not allowed in Serbia, Serbian citizens commonly decide to perform this procedure in Ukraine, Russia, or Georgia.
The price of this procedure from country to country. It also varies depending on the package that the couple decides to choose, and the type of surrogacy.
For example, services of surrogate motherhood in Ukraine move an average of 50,000 euros.
The agency provides them information about all the medical documentation they need to enclose, the conditions, and the packages it provides.
Then the future parents travel to the country for which they have decided where all the necessary checks of the reproductive material take place. If the conditions are fulfilled, the procedure continues. During the entire procedure, agency provides necessary information about the pregnancy and the development of the child.
In some countries, such as Ukraine, this procedure is allowed only for married couples who have been married for more than a year, while in some American countries this option is left for married couples as well as for members of the LGBT population, as well as for individuals without children.
Regulation of documents for the child after the procedure varies by country, but if the state where the procedure has been performed is the signatory to the Hague Convention than the legalization of the documents is not necessary. It has already been regulated by Apostille. Serbia is also a signatory of the Hague Convention, so legalization of citizenship and other documents is not necessary.
Also, this procedure is legal in Northern Cyprus, but that part of Cyprus (Northern Cyprus) is under the de facto rule of the Republic of Turkey, and if this procedure took place in that territory, there would be a problem with the child’s citizenship. This entity is not recognized by any member of the United Nations except the Republic of Turkey.