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Surrogacy, what is it and how does it work?

By Dr. Jesús Alberto Félix Atondo

Couples who have tried everything to achieve their dream of being parents, and who have not succeeded, have one hope: surrogacy. It is a delicate topic, with conflicting opinions. We will discuss some details below at our blog.


What is surrogacy?

Surrogacy is a legal contract in which a woman agrees to carry the pregnancy for a person or couple who wants to act as parents of the product of that pregnancy.

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It is also known as surrogate motherhood, gestation by contract or “womb rent”. However, from the perspective of human rights, the term surrogacy is the correct one due to the conditions in which it is carried out.

There are many variations of surrogacy. In most cases, gametes (eggs and sperm) from the intended parents, or from gamete donors, are used. In some circumstances, and under legal regulations, the pregnant woman shares her genetic material for the conception of the child.

Even though it is usually a paid agreement, legally it cannot have a financial compensation and it is assumed that the pregnancy is carried out as a gift, or adoption. Although it is accepted that the intended parents will be paying all the expenses resulting from the pregnancy: medical attention, assisted fertilization processes, hospital expenses, clothing, transportation expenses, life insurance, food, among others.


Is surrogacy legal in Mexico?

In Mexico there are two federal entities that allow surrogacy: Tabasco and Sinaloa, where the legislation considers it as cases of civil order.

People seeking surrogacy can be either country or city locals of the place where the surrogacy will be taking place, as well as foreigners who come from other locations where it is not allowed. It can be requested by couples seeking to have their first baby through a legal agreement of this type, as well as single people, or even people form the LGBT community.

Among the women who carry out the pregnancy, there are single women, married, with or without children, Mexican or foreign, and sometimes they may even be relatives or acquaintances who agree on a legal agreement to carry a pregnancy for a loved one.

The surrogacy regulation also involves general health sanitary issues, and therefore, those are the Federations responsibility. On the other hand, the agreements for surrogacy require assisted reproduction techniques, which must be taken into account in the contracts so that they are compatible with human rights, obligations of each party and in which both are protected.

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Legal framework in Mexico

The state of Tabasco introduced legislation on surrogacy in the civil code in 1997, where the registration of infants born under this agreement was contemplated. Nevertheless, it did not offer protection to neither of the two parties, so problems could arise. On January 13, 2016, the governor at that time, Arturo Núñez, approved a reform to the legislation in order to open opportunities and prevent human rights violations.

For its part, in Sinaloa surrogacy was introduced to the civil code in 2013, with restrictions and limitations to access agreements in a similar way to Tabasco since it is only allowed for married couples and who prove some medical impossibility.

In the rest of the country, the practice is not regulated, while in Coahuila and Querétaro, any surrogacy agreement is unknown in the civil codes.


Profile of pregnant women

Pregnant women for surrogacy purposes must be between the ages of 25 and 35, be in good physical and psychological health, who have been fully trained in the process and have given their voluntary and signed consent after knowing the information about the agreement and the processes to follow. In addition, the pregnant woman will have to prove that she was not pregnant during the previous 365 days and that she has not participated more than two consecutive times in the procedure.

Profile of pregnant women in surrogacy

Requirements for Intended Parents

In order to access a surrogacy contract, the intended parents (or the mother, if she is single), must be a mexican citizen, prove infertility, a physical impossibility or medical contraindication for a pregnancy in her uterus and must be between 25 and 40 years.


Legal requirements

The institutions that carry out the prenatal procedure and control must inform the Ministry of Health on a monthly basis. For its part, the contract must be made before a public notary, who must inform the Ministry of Health and the State Civil Registry within 24 hours.

Once the notary’s report is presented, a competent Judge must approve the contract to start the assisted reproduction process (which is usually In Vitro Fertilization, IVF) through which up to two embryos can be implanted.

Surrogacy is an unconventional way of having a child: it is controversial and there are still many legal loopholes that must be regulated to provide certainty and security, especially for pregnant women. However, it could be the last hope for couples who want to have a child with their genetic material.

At The Fertility Center we hope this information will be useful to you. We are fertility specialist Tijuana and assisted reproduction methods that will help you fulfill your dreams of bringing a baby home. Check out our variety of services, such as IVF in Mexico, timed intercourse cycle, intrauterine insemination in Mexico, the egg donor in Mexico or the egg freezing treatment, or any other that interests you.

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Dr. Jesús Alberto Félix Atondo

Gynecology, Obstetrics and Biology of Human Reproduction Surgeon at the Autonomous University of Guadalajara, specialist Biologist of Human Reproduction by the Mexican Institute of Infertility.

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