In December My Surrogacy Journey launched our latest membership, a fully inclusive pathway (with Parental Order on return) in Mexico City. Please also note; Surrogacy in Mexico City is NOT to be confused with surrogacy in other parts of Mexico; our pathway is very different indeed – read on to learn more of the history behind our pathway. Read on, as Zaina Mahmoud takes on a journey through Mexico City’s colourful history
In 1997, an amendment to Tabasco’s civil code allowed IPs to be recognised at birth as the parents of children born through surrogacy, provided there was a certified copy of the surrogacy contract. However, it was only in 2013 that surrogacy truly took off as an industry in the Mexican state, owing to the fact that many southeast Asian countries restricted access to foreign IPs in 2013. At this point, the Mexican surrogacy landscape was a precarious one, with increased scrutiny. In particular, it became a hub for transnational surrogacy for gay IPs who were unable to realise their family formation plans in their own countries, and who were unable to afford the cost of Californian surrogacy. In fact, it’s estimated that around 70% of all IPs were same-sex male couples, unable to access surrogacy in their home jurisdictions.
Given the circumstances surrounding its popularity, the industry grew faster than regulation could keep up, resulting in rampant exploitative practices. As with any emerging surrogacy destination, the country was soon overrun with many unscrupulous businesses looking to maximise their profitability.
Fertility clinics were barely supervised. Many international brokers noticed the opportunity to profit, and began opening and shutting their doors, sometimes reappearing under another name. Without any regulation of the practice or surrogacy agencies, the headlines surrounding Tabasco’s surrogacy industry quickly mounted and painted an exploitative, underregulated landscape. Unsurprisingly, when another Mexican state, Sinaloa, introduced surrogacy regulation in 2013, surrogacy was restricted to domestic couples. Shortly after, in December 2015, the Tabascan government passed new regulation limiting access to surrogacy to heterosexual domestic couples, in an attempt to quell concerns related to human trafficking and exploitation. Importantly, the updates to its Civil Code expressly prohibited commercial surrogacy—understood as the for-profit involvement of a third-party in a surrogacy arrangement.
Six years later, in June 2021, the Mexican Supreme Court found state-specific prohibitions against surrogacy to be unlawful. The Court found that gestational surrogacy was protected under the right to form a family encompassed in Article 4 of the Mexican Constitution. Furthermore, the Court upheld the doctrine of intention-based parenthood, where legal parenthood is determined by the intention and desire to form a family, rather than genetics.
The new Mexican surrogacy landscape is radically different from its predecessor, and is markedly more similar to California, relying on advanced medical technologies and an existing tourism infrastructure. To begin, Mexico is a hub for infertility treatment for as there are no legal regulations that restrict or prohibit in-vitro fertilization or egg donation treatment. Similar to the U.S., there is no legal regulation for ART. Instead, ART is regulated through national organizations such as the Mexican Association of Reproductive Medicine and the Latin American Network of Assisted Reproduction (REDLARA). Though many negative stereotypes of Mexico’s healthcare provision persist, in reality the provision of IVF in Mexico in private clinics is similar to the care received at British or American clinics. Many Mexican reproductive physicians are trained in the U.S. or in Spain, giving rise to the popular slogan ‘First World medicine at Third World prices.’
Cognisant of the stigmatised climate and the need to protect surrogates from exploitation, surrogacy proceeds very cautiously when compared to other jurisdictions, including the U.K.
There is careful and thorough screening of potential surrogates via our pathway, ensuring that they are freely consenting to the arrangement and aware of the risks involved. Similar to the U.S., surrogates must be between 25-35 years old, have already given birth to their own children, and have a good obstetric history. Additionally, rigorous psychological and medical screening must be passed. One important safeguard in place is a residency requirement— surrogates must have been residents of CDMX (Mexico City) for a minimum of three years—with this serving to minimise the risk of trafficked people from around Mexico acting as surrogates.
Unlike California and other jurisdictions enforcing surrogacy contracts, there are rules in place ensuring contractual terms do not violate surrogates’ autonomy (see Judgment No. 277/2022). This is important, especially as surrogates are compensated between £8-12,000 —a significant sum. Furthermore, there is a whole host of legal protections in place for both parties, including pre-birth parental court order, approving the contract between IPs and surrogates. The judge approving this court order follows the journey throughout, a unique feature of the Mexico City family law system. This court order names the IPs as the legal parents, eliminating the need for any Parental Order or adoption process post-birth. Of course, once in the U.K., a Parental Order will need to be obtained to recognise this legal parentage, however all of this is taken care of through MSJ’s Mexico City Pathway.
Ukraine now out of the frame
For British IPs, surrogacy in Mexico City is now a legitimate alternative to Ukraine and Georgia, which was a popular destination for British IPs until 2022. Those that choose this new pathway in Mexico City, do so because they are time precious vs. the match times in the UK, (Mexico City matches in under 3 months vs. 24 months in the UK on average). Budget also plays a key role here, generally these IPs do not have £200k to spend on building their family, but they may have £65k (which is inclusive of embryo creation or shipping costs, surrogate compensation, Mexico City legal contracts, donor costs, insurances and the return UK Parental Order to name just a few).
As with all things new, there remain many stereotypes remain about the process and the country. It’s important that these are dispelled, and factual information about how surrogacy proceeds is promoted.
Surrogacy in Mexico City is not to be confused, nor compared with surrogacy in other parts of Mexico; this is next level in terms of the support of all people involvedMichael Johnson-Ellis Co-Founder of My Surrogacy Journey
This is why finally seeing a transparent inclusive Mexico City pathway is a win for safer surrogacy. Furthermore, it’s important that the process feels like staying at home, as one of the most daunting parts of engaging in cross-border surrogacy is not being at home. Choosing to go to Mexico City for a surrogacy journey is made more personable, with various touches and services that demonstrate the level of care that has become synonymous with MSJ, always raising the bar of support.
If you’d like to learn more about this wonderful new pathway, please click here and request more information.