The History of Gestational Carrier Programs

The history of gestational carrier programs began with the introduction of in vitro fertilization (IVF). Women who could not provide eggs or become pregnant viewed IVF and surrogacy as a way to have a child who would be linked biologically to at least one parent. Although instances of surrogacy can be found in ancient historical documents, surrogacy as a developing program and practice did not begin until the 1980’s. 

Development of Gestational Carrier Programs

In 1986, the highly publicized court case involving custody of “Baby M” brought surrogacy to the nation’s attention. Prior to this time, potential parents and surrogates entered into private contracts. Up to this time, contractual disputes were settled privately between the parties. 

Current Legislation

In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate supplies her own egg; however, a gestational carrier shares no relation to the unborn child, because the embryo has been implanted in her uterus. In the U.S., laws regarding gestational carriers and traditional surrogates differ from state to state. 

Currently, only 10 states permit some form of gestational or traditional surrogacy programs. Some of these states permit only gestational carriers, while others permit both. States also regulate the costs, benefits and compensation associated with these programs differently. Residency may also be required in some states. 

Commercial gestational carrier programs are available in select states. Because of the complexity of the laws, each clinic will define their program differently. 

International Programs

Gestational carrier and surrogacy programs have become legal international businesses in India. The Supreme Court in New Delhi upholds the rights of parents seeking and contracting gestational carriers or surrogates. 

Surrogacy and gestational carrier programs are also legal in the Ukraine. The only legal requirement is a written agreement and contract signed by all parties. After the birth of the child, the names of the prospective parents are entered onto the birth certificate making them the legal parents. 

Gestational carrier programs are still in their infancy. It is expected that in the near future, more U.S. states will begin to recognize and legislate these programs.