Surrogacy laws vary from country to country, which can leave children vulnerable
The case of Gammy, a baby with Down's syndrome who was born to a Thai surrogate mother and allegedly left behind by the intended Australian parents, has caused international controversy. Where do people go to arrange for surrogate babies, and is it legal?
What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy is where a woman becomes pregnant with the intention of handing over the child to someone else after giving birth. Generally, she carries the baby for a couple or parent who cannot conceive a child themselves - they are known as "intended parents".
There are two forms of surrogacy. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother's egg is used, making her the genetic mother. In gestational surrogacy, the egg is provided by the intended mother or a donor. The egg is fertilised through in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and then placed inside the surrogate mother.
Is surrogacy legal?
It varies from country to country.
Countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Bulgaria prohibit all forms of surrogacy.
In countries including the UK, Ireland, Denmark and Belgium, surrogacy is allowed where the surrogate mother is not paid, or only paid for reasonable expenses. Paying the mother a fee (known as commercial surrogacy) is prohibited.
Elton John (right) and David Furnish are among the celebrities to become parents of a baby born to a surrogate
Commercial surrogacy is legal in some US states, and countries including India, Russia and Ukraine.
People who want to be parents may go abroad if their home country does not allow surrogacy, or if they cannot find a surrogate.
However, even here, the laws may vary. For example, some Australian states have criminalised going to another country for commercial surrogacy, while others permit it.