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    pink loader

    History of Surrogacy

    • 4.7   (6 Votes)
    Medically Reviewed by Dr. Deepika Tiwari - MBBS on 30 Mar 2019 - Written by Dr. Kalyan Datta - MBBS - Grammatically Approved by Dr. Kavita Jaggi Agrawal - MBBS

    Having another woman bear a child for an infertile couple is called as surrogacy. In the old times, Babylonian law and custom allowed this practice in various parts of the world and saved an infertile woman from a divorce, which would otherwise be foreseeable. Many changes have been made from then till now.

    In biblical times, traditional surrogacy was practiced. Many developments in medicine, social customs, and legal proceedings worldwide have made the way for modern surrogacy. Here, we have discussed in detail about the timeline of how surrogacy treatment has been evolved over the years. (1)

    In this article, we will look at:

    1. How surrogacy treatment started in biblical times?
    2. What is the recent history of surrogacy?
    3. What changes have been made in surrogacy treatment in India?
    4. What new surrogacy laws are implemented in India?

    1. How Surrogacy Treatment Started in Biblical Times?

    Surrogacy is not a new technique as it has been there for centuries. In biblical times, there is the story of the maid called Hagar who became a surrogate for Sarah with the help of Sarah's husband Abraham. (2) Hager gave birth to a son named Ishmael. Ishmael was the first child in history born due to traditional surrogacy. The second case of surrogacy was carried out in Summer Mesopotamia in the middle of the18th century BC. Rachel, the wife of Jacob, commissioned her maid Billah to have a child by convincing Jacob to sleep with her. (3) Surrogacy was quite common in ancient Egypt. Many of the Egyptian Pharaohs asked their concubines to help them in producing offspring. The ancient rulers of Egypt were believed to directly descend from the God of Sun Ra. (3)

    1677: In 1677 the inventor of the microscope - A. Leeuwenhoek examined seven humans. He was the first to detect spermatozoon. He made a suggestion that a spermatozoon was a kind of seed, and a woman’s uterus created a favorable environment for it’s sprouting.

    1790: In 1790 Scottish surgeon and venereologist John Hunter, artificially inseminated a woman and this was the first artificial insemination in history. In 1880 the first attempt of IVF in history was listed in guinea pigs. (3)

    1891: In 1891 a French scientist Heape was the first to carry out successful IVF on rabbits by transferring an embryo from one guinea rabbit to another. (3)

    1920: Until 1920, IVF by husband or donor’s sperm had become widely spread in infertility treatment.

    1978: Louise Brown, world’s first IVF baby, was born on July 25, 1978, in the UK under the specialization of Dr. Robert G. Edwards and Dr. Patrick Steptoe. Later on October 3, 1978, India’s first IVF baby, Kanupriya, alias Durga was born in Kolkata. The credit for first successful IVF treatment in India goes to Dr. Subhas Mukherjee. 

    Surrogacy in Biblical Time

    2. What Is the Recent History of Surrogacy?

    1984–1986: The most famous case in surrogacy history is the “Baby M.” case, in which traditional surrogacy was involved. Bill and Betsy Stern hired Mary Beth Whitehead to be their surrogate in 1984, agreeing to pay her $10,000. Here the mother’s eggs were used in the artificial insemination process, so she was the biological mother of the child. After the birth of a child it was time for Whitehead to sign over her parental rights, she refused and took custody of baby Melissa Stern. It began a long custody battle in 1986. (4)

    1987: The outcomes of this custody case played a key role in the development of some of the stricter laws related to surrogacy. The Supreme Court ruled that the surrogacy agreement between the intended parents and the surrogate was illegal and, therefore, restored Whitehead’s parental rights. Sterns were granted the custody, with Whitehead receiving visitation rights. This case was a turning point in the history of surrogacy.
    2018: Surrogacy has become so popular now, that more than 750 children are born through surrogacy each year.

    Recent History of Surrogacy

    3. What Changes Have Been Made in Surrogacy Treatment in India?

    After the birth of the first test-tube baby in 1986 in India, various IVF clinics in the country were established. From the starting of modern surrogacy, India had been a popular destination for international intended parents. The main reason for this was low cost and easy availability of surrogates. (1)

    The services offered by some of these clinics were not up to the mark. The reason for this was a lack of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) guidelines as well as legislation on ART in the country, no accreditation, supervisory and regulatory body and no control of Government. Therefore, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) developed a draft National Guidelines for Accreditation, Supervision, and Regulation of ART Clinics in India in 2002. (5) Commercial surrogacy in India was made legal in 2002. (6) In 2008 the Supreme Court of India in the Manji's case has held that commercial surrogacy is permitted in India and it again increased the international confidence in going for surrogacy in India. (7) In 2016 the Indian government passed new regulations on the surrogacy treatment. According to that law, it became illegal for foreign intended parents to complete surrogacy in India. (8)

    4. What New Surrogacy Laws Are Implemented in India?

    The 2015 surrogacy ban was only the start of legislation regulating surrogacy. After almost two years in December 2018, an Indian surrogacy law was passed and made the following changes:

    • Made commercial surrogacy illegal in India
    • Only altruistic surrogacy in allowed for needy, infertile Indian couples (9)
    •  It is necessary for Indian parents to be married for five years and have a doctor’s certificate of their infertility (9)
    • Women can become surrogates only for once, that too if they are a close relative of the intended parents, are married and have their own child
    • Homosexuals couples, single parents and live-in couples cannot go for surrogacy

    New Surrogacy Laws in India

    These changes reflect a new era of surrogacy in India. Other countries like Nepal and Thailand have recently implemented surrogacy bans, as well. (10) There is still a group of people who are not in favor of banning surrogacy in India. According to them, there was a need to regulate commercial surrogacy and not completely ban it. The bill will affect genuine childless couples who don't get support from their families to go for altruistic surrogacy. (11)

    Keep reading Elawoman blog for more such informative and entertaining articles. For any query related to surrogacy, you can consult Elawoman on the given number: +918929020600.

    Dr. Kalyan Datta

    Written by

    Obstetrician, Laparoscopic Surgeon
    Dr. Kalyan Datta is a Gynaecology and Infertility Specialist based in Salt Lake, Kolkata. In addition to Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), he specializes in different Gynecological problems and conditions. Dr. Datta addresses a number of issues concerning Gynae Laparoscopy, Hysteroscopy, Infertility Evaluation, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF)- Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), TESA, MESA, Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET), Abnormal Uterine Growth, Endometriosis, PCOS and many others. Dr. Kalyan has an experience of more than 2 decades and extensive knowledge making him a reliable name. After finishing his MBBS and MD in Obstetrics and Gynaecology from Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), Pune, Dr. Kalyan began with his practise with Dr. Kalyan Datta's Clinic. Dr. Datta acquired both his MBBS and MD in Obstetrics and Gynaecology from Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), Pune. He practises at Dr. Kalyan Datta clinic. To get his contact details log on to





    Trilok Singhla

    As my wife was not that young now and the chances of a successful delivery were very less. So we thought surrogacy as a wonderful alternative. This procedure helped us to have our own baby.

    Nov. 2, 2018, 12:23 a.m. 5.0


    Ritika Gyani

    I think a surrogate goes through a lot of emotional and physical trauma. It is okay that surrogates get paid, but they are also doing a very noble cause which can not be compared with money.

    Oct. 26, 2018, 4:15 p.m. 5.0


    Namrata Kakkad

    So, surrogacy is a very old practice. Even in India also surrogacy is practiced for a long time.

    Oct. 14, 2018, 3:06 p.m. 4.5


    Tejas Vaidhan

    There are many legal works associated with surrogacy. Even if you have known the surrogate from the past, then also you can not say that there will be no problems afterward.

    Sept. 30, 2018, 10:45 a.m. 4.5


    Gopichand Prakash

    I think Bollywood celebrities have made surrogacy more like a fashion trend. It is now more acceptable and has gathered a lot of attention.

    Sept. 18, 2018, 7:23 a.m. 4.5


    Somdev Prithu

    Aug. 24, 2018, 5:57 p.m. 4.5

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