Surrogacy laws and acceptance vary dramatically by country. Some strictly regulate it, some ban commercial arrangements and some have few protections for those involved. Overall, surrogacy demonstrates how social, cultural, and political norms influence the development and use of reproductive technologies.
Surrogacy provides an alternative means of having a biologically-related child. But it creates numerous bioethical debates that the global community continues to grapple with.
Here are some key features of surrogacy in Europe and examples from different countries:
Commercial surrogacy is banned across most of Europe – The European Court of Human Rights ruled commercial surrogacy illegal and countries like France, Germany, Italy, and Spain have bans.
Altruistic surrogacy only:
Some countries like the UK and the Netherlands allow surrogacy only if the surrogate is not paid beyond basic expenses.
Greece is one of the few that allows commercial surrogacy but under strict rules like only for married heterosexual couples. Portugal also has regulated surrogacy.
Russia and Ukraine have become destinations for surrogacy tourism due to few regulations. Ukraine even markets itself as an affordable, easily accessible option.
Travel for surrogacy:
Wealthy Europeans often travel to the U.S. or Canada to find surrogates and undergo the process legally.
Illegal but tolerated:
In Belgium, surrogacy is technically illegal but regulations are not enforced. Intended parents can usually get citizenship for a surrogate child.
Surrogacy in the Czech Republic has the following features:
Commercial surrogacy is illegal, only altruism is allowed.
Only reasonable expenses can be paid to the Czech surrogate.
Fairly long wait times of 1-2 years to match with a surrogate.
One of the intended parents must provide genetic material. No donor eggs/sperm.
There are a few key reasons why egg and sperm donation are currently prohibited in the Czech Republic:
Concerns about commodification:
There are ethical concerns that permitting donation could lead to the commodification of human eggs, sperm and embryos. Authorities want to avoid commercial trade in genetic material.
Protecting traditional families :
Conservative social values in the Czech Republic favor maintaining the integrity of traditional family structures. Donated eggs/sperm are seen as complicating family lineages.
Lack of regulations:
The Czech legal system does not yet have regulations and protections in place to govern donation and protect donors and recipients if it were permitted.
Preventing reproductive tourism:
Nearby countries like Greece, Ukraine, and Russia allow surrogacy and donation. Czechs seek to avoid becoming a destination for reproductive tourism.
The Catholic church still holds some sway in Czech culture. The Catholic doctrine opposes procedures like IVF and donation as ‘unnatural’ interference.
There are still complex bioethical debates around issues like disclosure to offspring. Authorities don’t feel a social consensus has emerged to allow donations yet.
However, the Czech Republic does allow other assisted reproductive technologies like IVF for married couples using their own genetic material. But for now, egg and sperm donation remains prohibited due to a mix of ethical, legal, and social factors. There is still ongoing discussion about if or when donation policies may be liberalized.
surrogacy laws vary widely in Europe but commercial practices are prohibited in most countries, leading many to pursue options abroad.