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Issues that have arisen from engaging in surrogacy overseas

Examples of serious issues that have arisen in international surrogacy.

Unlike Australia, many countries do not regulate surrogacy properly or at all, and fail to protect human rights.


Even if Australians have the best of intentions, it can be difficult to receive assurance that the human rights of parties involved in an overseas surrogacy agreement are being upheld. For example, it can be difficult to be sure that:

  • the international surrogate received proper care before, during and after their pregnancy and that they were not coerced or exploited by third parties.
  • that the best interests of the child are paramount in the surrogacy arrangement, and the child will be able to access accurate information about their biological family in accordance with their right to an identity.

In countries that lack legal frameworks for surrogacy, there is a greater risk that surrogates may be victims of human trafficking, be exploited or have their human rights breached. There is also growing evidence that commercial surrogacy can lead to exploitation of women and children, and focus on the commissioning parents' wishes rather than the best interests of the child.

There have been many verified and widely publicised examples in recent years of issues for surrogates, children and commissioning parents. Examples are below.


  • trafficked internationally and forced into surrogacy arrangements.
  • made to sign surrogacy agreements without understanding the terms.
  • health and well-being – before, during and after the birth of the baby – not considered or compensated in surrogacy arrangements.
  • paid only a very small portion of what commissioning parents paid to surrogacy clinics.
  • removed from their families and confined in accommodation of the provider of surrogacy services.
  • not paid at all when they didn’t give birth to a live child or when the commissioning parent refused to accept the child.
  • with multiple embryos implanted and then forced to have selective abortions.
  • prosecuted and jailed after laws changed with little or no notice.


  • discovered in later years that clinics used the wrong egg or sperm to create an embryo or implanted the wrong embryo.
  • paid large sums for surrogacy arrangements where services were then not provided.
  • experienced difficulties collecting their children after laws changed with little or no notice or when national crises (such as war or natural disaster) have occurred.


  • denied their human right to preserve their identity (including being unable to access information about their biological family because of inaccurate records of the surrogate and donors).
  • left parentless, and sometimes stateless, when commissioning parents rejected them or changed their mind.
  • trafficked for abuse, servitude and sexual exploitation.

More information