Gestational Surrogacy

Gestational Surrogacy

SRHM’s focus on gestational surrogacy stems from concerns about the radical movement and efforts towards the establishment of international human rights standards on gestational surrogacy that may require governments to prohibit and restrict access to such services. Using existing and widely accepted principles, such as the “best interests of the child,” these advocates are making headway arguing that surrogacy where money is exchanged  constitutes be “sale” or “trafficking” in children, ignoring sexual and reproductive justice considerations. Already, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the sale and exploitation of children in 2018 issued a report whereby many legitimate arrangements (e.g. those where there is no evidence or allegations of exploitation) would be classified as trafficking. She is preparing her second report, which will be released in September at the General Assembly in 2019.

There is no doubt that surrogacy should be regulated, however, these should be established on a solid sexual and reproductive rights base that respects the rights of women to make decisions about their own bodily and reproduction choices, and the choices of diverse families and that of intended parents.  

Establishing regulations focused on the rights of children—especially when such children do not yet exist and are not understood to yet be the subjects of human rights – opens the door to wholesale restrictions on reproductive and sexual autonomy, decision making, and the right to decide to form a family.

There is an urgent need for mobilization and action within the SRHR community on gestational surrogacy. We continue our advocacy work in this area and are hoping to announce a call for papers for a special issue on this topic as soon as we obtain appropriate funding.


SRHM papers:

White PM. Hidden from view: Canadian gestational surrogacy practices and outcomes, 2001-2012 – 24(47):2016
Cottingham J. Book review: Babies, Borders and Big Business – 25(49):2017
Whittaker A. Cross-border assisted reproduction care in Asia: implications for access, equity and regulations – 19(37):2011

More literature coming soon


SRHM with the Yale Law School and with the support of Open Society Foundation (OSF), organised a meeting in London in September 2018. The purpose was to work toward the development of a solid multidisciplinary framework (including legal, sociological, public health, and gender justice perspectives), about gestational surrogacy, that puts sexual and reproductive rights, justice and choice centrally, taking into account child rights perspectives, and to solidly negotiate intersecting interests from the SRHR perspective. One of the aims of the meeting was for SRHM to establish itself as a pioneer in the global stage on this issue. Second, it is hoped that the meeting and subsequent activities will lead to the creation of a knowledge platform that serves as a center for global discussion, mobilization, and action for the SRHR community.

Joint submission to The Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children

Capacity building

In order to produce quality rights and evidence based info on sexual and reproductive justice perspectives on surrogacy, SRHM provides mentoring to researchers, advocates, policy makers, service providers and other SRHR professionals, especially those from the global South, to bring their analysis and writing to peer-reviewed publication standard in service of improving dissemination of quality research and analysis on SRHR, with a strong focus on rights perspectives and with particular attention to the needs and rights of most marginalized people.