Surrogate motherhood is a controversial subject with laws governing the practice varying widely around the world.
Some countries ban surrogacy of any kind while others have no regulations at all.
CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock reports that Mexico was once known for being friendly to the practice but is now in the middle of a crackdown.
Yoselin Gomez from Mexico’s Tabasco State is a surrogate mother. Last year, she gave birth to a baby girl. After the infant was delivered to her genetic parents, Yoselin was paid $10,000 for her services.
“I built my home and started a business with the money I received. So the process was mutually beneficial,” said Yoselin Gomez a surrogate Mother
Yoselin is what remains of what was once a booming medical tourism industry in this impoverished region of Mexico’s Gulf Coast.
For years, Tabasco State served as a world capital for surrogacy. According to state authorities, of the thousands of clients who came here every year seeking the service, 95 percent were foreigners, each paying upwards of $60,000 for the entire process.
But in January 2017, the practice was put to a swift end by state lawmakers. Among the problems in Tabasco a lack of regulation that opened the system up to abuse.
Like what happened to Rebecca Sanchez and her husband Carlos. After the birth of their twins in 2016, they were prevented from seeing the babies for one month by the surrogacy agency, which attempted to charge them three times the previously agreed-upon surrogacy fee.
“They took the surrogate to one of the most expensive hospitals, without any authorization on our part. And arriving there, we weren’t allowed to see the children. They put them in that hospital in order to ramp up the costs. And for the foreigners who sought the service, how could they defend themselves,” said Carlos Guerte a surrogacy client.
In a series of laws passed rapidly through the state legislature, Tabasco banned foreigners, third-party agencies and set a requirement that the surrogate’s name appears on birth certificates meaning genetic parents are now forced to adopt their own children.
Yet with so much infrastructure in place, surrogacy has not so much disappeared as gone underground. Leon Altamirano is an attorney who, prior to 2017, was an investor in a surrogacy agency. His business was shut down by the new laws, but he’s still got his finger on the pulse of the industry.
“I know perfectly well that there are many clinics that still conduct surrogate pregnancies here. Two American agencies, and two Spanish, still do surrogacy treatment here. But now in Mexico, they will never be able to take the surrogate mother’s name off the birth certificate,” said Leon Altamirano an attorney.
Clandestine surrogacy, of course, opens all involved to greater risk and trauma.
“What’s missing are good laws. And I know it can be done, and it will be of benefit to everyone. It’s a way to help another family economically. You help them economically, and they help you to produce children. But it needs to be regulated,” said Carlos Guerte a surrogacy client.
With surrogacy still taking place in Tabasco, inside and apparently outside the law as well, the state’s medical practitioners are clamoring for reform. Whether they’ll see it any time soon is uncertain.