Surrogacy or surrogate motherhood is a practice that has proliferated in Colombia among foreigners and nationals due to legal ambiguity in the country, which does not consider it legal or illegal.
Although the government is trying to take action on the matter by seeking a law to regulate surrogate motherhood, a bill of this type has already died on 15 occasions in debates in Congress and the Senate. A new proposal was presented in February, and some view it with optimism.
“Interested in renting out my womb”
On Facebook, several women leave messages on pages that are dedicated to promoting this practice.
“Hello! I am from Medellín and I am interested in renting my womb, I am physically healthy, ”says one of the messages.
Another says “I’m looking for a surrogate.”
“I found that on social networks, one day looking at Facebook, I was interested in the subject. I had heard it, but as a taboo, ”said Eliana, a 27-year-old woman who asked not to be identified and lent her womb to a homoparental family for the first time.
The woman did not offer details about the arrangement she made with the child’s parents, but said that the fertilization was in vitro.
Before starting treatment, future pregnant women must demonstrate that they are physically and mentally well, the woman indicated.
In some cases, the clinics are in charge of initiating the selection processes of the woman who is going to provide her womb and in others they are the future parents who go directly to the place with the surrogate mother.
To start a pregnancy of this type, the eggs are fertilized to create embryos that are placed in the uterus, explained fertility specialist Mauricio Ortega.
Daniel Rentería, a Colombian who lives in Barcelona and who is looking for a woman to rent her womb to have his child, said that the future surrogate must meet certain requirements, including being in good health.
“I would like to take a good look at your family tree, ask you a series of interviews, ask questions and suddenly verify the issue of diseases or situations that have existed in your family,” Rentería said.
The man said to voice of america that the search process in social networks for a woman who is willing to rent her womb has been easy. She said that she is willing to pay up to $16,000 to fulfill her dream of having a child.
Why isn’t there a surrogate motherhood law in Colombia?
The Colombian government filed a bill before Congress in February to regulate surrogate motherhood. If the law is approved, this practice cannot be carried out for commercial purposes, but only for altruistic purposes.
The project indicates the prohibition of reproductive tourism, forbidding the practice to avoid “behaviors of foreigners who could come to Colombia as an attractive place for uterine surrogacy, for gestation, promoting some form of reproductive industry.”
Likewise, it seeks to suppress commercial purposes, establishing that the contract must be signed “bilaterally, free, random and solemn, where the surrogate is not entitled to any fees or remuneration, but only to compensation for consequential damage and loss of earnings caused and this agreement is non-profit.”
The bill “By means of which uterine surrogacy for pregnancy in Colombia is regulated”, as it has been called, will need four debates, two of them in the Senate and Chamber committees and another two before the full Congress, before to obtain approval and pass to presidential sanction to become law.
In recent years, different political sectors have presented more than 15 bills of this type to the Colombian Congress to regulate this practice, but none have managed to pass the necessary debates.
The Constitutional Court ordered Congress in September 2022 to regulate surrogate motherhood in the country, explained Senator Ciro Ramírez, from the Democratic Center, a conservative political party in Colombia, who considers that all the debates have already been raised and that the current proposal could sink like the previous ones.
For the current bill to advance, “it is important not to create very high access barriers and restrictions,” said the senator, referring to the regulations. The access barriers “will be very difficult to enforce,” he noted.
“The most important thing is not to generate very high restrictions and access barriers, as they are doing, with very large and excessive requirements for those who need to rent a womb and the mother who is going to rent her uterus”, he pointed out.
Ramírez believes that this, like other projects that have raised non-commercial surrogacy, will not pass the first debates.
“The laws have to start from a real base. If we make laws for Martians, then let the Martians comply with it, but we have to talk about a reality and that is that if someone rents his womb, he does it to receive economic remuneration, ”he said.
The lawyer and analyst Jesús Albrey González, an expert in medical law, hopes that this project will have a deeper debate compared to previous initiatives that includes “all the points of view and the rights of the parties involved, such as minors who are born, closing all those gaps that today the legislation does not contemplate”. Otherwise, “it will have the same fate as those bills that passed through Congress but ended up being shelved,” he said.
In Colombia, rental bellies are quoted between 4,000 and 10,000 dollars, according to figures from Congress. In contrast, in the US and Western Europe they can cost between $100,000 and $150,000.
In Latin America, several countries have adjusted their rules on surrogate motherhood. In Guatemala, for example, it is prohibited, while in others such as Argentina, Bolivia and Costa Rica they do not prohibit it, but it is not illegal either.
In the case of Mexico, there is no federal law on the subject and surrogate motherhood is allowed with certain limitations, except in some states such as Querétaro and San Luis Potosí, where it is not allowed. The same happens in Brazil, where it is allowed, but with limitations. In Uruguay it is allowed if the mother verifies her infertility and goes to a relative in the second degree of consanguinity, who in this case should not receive any economic remuneration.
In the United States it is not regulated at the federal level, however each state has its own laws. California, Maine and New Jersey are some of the most permissive.
Last month, a universal declaration that seeks to abolish surrogacy was signed in Morocco. Lawyers, doctors and psychologists from 75 countries who signed the declaration argued that the desire to be parents “cannot be obtained at any cost, especially if that is to treat vulnerable women as if they were objects, and children as if they were merchandise to be bought.” and they are sold”.
Senator María del Rosario Guerra, also from the Democratic Center, the same right-wing party as Ramíerez, sees surrogacy as a way to sell women.
“Surrogacy as such is an issue that can be considered as human trafficking, because what it basically does is take advantage of a vulnerability such as the vulnerability of many women,” said the senator, who has presented one of the bills which was archived.
Alejandro Ocampo, representative to the Chamber for the Historical Pact, the official government coalition in Colombia, pointed out that the bill seeks to “give priority to children, prevent women from becoming child factories, with clear regulations that provides solutions to families who want to have children”.
Due to the lack of regulations, after the birth of the baby another process begins so that the birth registration of the girl to boy remains in the name of the surrogate parents and they do not have to go through an adoption process, since the law establishes that in that record that is granted after the birth must include the name of the mother.
Intended parents pay the doctor so that the name of the people who rented the womb as parents of the baby appears in the registry, he explained to the VOA Yimmi Gómez, lawyer specializing in administrative law.
The lawyer said that it is necessary to regulate this aspect, “especially to guarantee the protection of the newborn minor in terms of delivery at the time of birth and its registration.”