Georgia Set to Ban Commercial Surrogacy

A draft law will strictly regulate the sector, prohibiting foreign couples from accessing services. 

Georgia Set to Ban Commercial Surrogacy

A draft law will strictly regulate the sector, prohibiting foreign couples from accessing services. 

Adverts seeking surrogate mothers abound in Georgia, one of the few countries where commercial surrogacy is legal. The government is working on a law that would ban the fee-based practice and limit it only to prospective parents from Georgia.
Adverts seeking surrogate mothers abound in Georgia, one of the few countries where commercial surrogacy is legal. The government is working on a law that would ban the fee-based practice and limit it only to prospective parents from Georgia.
Tuesday, 8 August, 2023

Adverts seeking surrogate mothers abound on Georgian social media, so it did not take Eka long to find and contact an agency.

“I decided to become a surrogate mother because of financial problems, I could not find a proper job,” Eka (not her real name) told IWPR.

She gave birth in early 2023; the intended parents left with the baby for China shortly afterwards. 

But soon foreign couples will no longer have access to Georgia’s booming surrogacy sector as the Georgian government is working on a draft law that will tighten rules and access to the practice. 

Georgia is one of the few countries in the world where commercial surrogacy is legal, allowing a woman to be paid to carry someone else’s genetic child through IVF and embryo-transfer.

The draft bill aims to ban commercial surrogacy, allowing it only on the “principle of altruism” and exclusively for Georgian couples: surrogate mothers would not be allowed to carry and deliver babies for prospective parents from abroad. The text under discussion foresees compensation only for “inconveniences” related to the process, such as costs related to medical examinations or labour. If approved, the bill, which will also prohibit adverts for surrogacy services, will enter into force on January 1 2024.

According to the minister of health, labour and social affairs Zurab Azarashvili, the current legislative framework is vague, allowing “unethical and bad practices”. He also stated 

that surrogate births had doubled in the last five years ,reaching about 2,000 per year. In 2020, the ministry indicated that 98 per cent of all prospective parents were foreigners

Access and price are key drivers. In Georgia, the cost of having a child via a surrogate ranges from between 25,000 to 50,000 US dollars, which is a fraction of the over 100,000 dollars prospective parents can expect to pay in the few US states where the practice is legal. 

Ukraine and Russia used to be major surrogacy destinations, but the war has largely limited the practice in the former, while in the latter a law approved late 2022 banned foreigners from accessing it.

“The surrogacy and donation issue is relevant to young women who have financial difficulties and want to meet their basic needs. The changes will affect them greatly, because they will lose a source of income which they used to feed and take care of their children,” Tsiala Gachechiladze, the director of the Tbilisi-based Birth Future surrogacy agency, told IWPR, adding that agencies like hers would adapt to the new reality and relocate abroad. 

The government stated that it was taking steps in line with Georgia’s direct obligation under the EU Association Agreement to regulate the sector.

“Without regulation, there are high ethical and legal risks, as well as risks in terms of the quality of medical services,” said deputy health minister Tamar Gabunia

The parliament’s press office did not respond to IWPR’s request for interviews with members of the health committee. 


Georgia introduced surrogacy in the late 2000s, since when it has boomed. The vast amount of adverts seeking surrogate mothers, in particular online, highlights the business side of the practice. 

The government considered ending fee-based surrogacy in 2014. In 2020, it introduced the first restrictions, limiting the services to heterosexual couples who have been married or otherwise lived together as a couple for at least a year. 

Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili also stated that once a child was born in Georgia and given to foreigners, no one knows what would happen to that child. For instance, he noted, children could be taken home by same-sex couples, in breach of Georgian legislation. 

For Gachechiladze, that scenario is not possible. 

“A person cannot just come and take a child [out of the country]. I don’t understand why this new law was needed and why it is necessary to treat foreign couples this way,” she said.

Sociologist Nino Rcheulishvili noted that simply banning commercial surrogacy might create regulatory difficulties.  

“In most cases, women agree to surrogacy in exchange for a certain payment because they need money,” the assistant professor at Ilia State University in Tbilisi told IWPR. “It is not clear how it is going to be regulated in case of altruistic surrogacy and whether it will remain really altruistic or become the basis of some shadow agreement... More serious regulation is needed rather than just banning commercial surrogacy and approving altruistic surrogacy.”

For Lika Chkhonia, who chairs the Georgian Human Reproduction and Embryology Association, the large influx of foreigners enables reproduction and embryology centres to provide treatment to Georgian patients as well.  

“We want this field to be well regulated…to work with the ministry, the parliament and the government, to sort all this out together,” she told IWPR. “I don’t know what will happen to Georgian patients if we lose our foreign patients. The equipment, materials, solutions as well as proper conditions are essential for achieving results and all of this has high costs. We managed to keep the prices low for Georgian patients despite inflation. This was possible because we had patients who paid a little bit more than Georgian patients to cover this gap.”  


Nino (not her real name) decided to seek surrogacy services due to her cancer diagnosis.

“I turned to surrogacy, for my personal safety,” the Tbilisi resident told IWPR. “My cancer is quite aggressive. It is characterised by a high rate of recurrence.”  

She also noted that before applying to the agency, she wanted to make sure that she would be healthy enough to raise her child. As a result, she had not yet begun the surrogacy process, but had embryos frozen before she began her treatment.

“I also thought about finding a surrogate mother before this law comes into force, but I have no guarantee that I will not go through another long chemotherapy treatment,” she continued. “I do not know how things will develop, but if I decide to bring my child into this world, I must be healthy for my child. So far, my health does not allow me to speed up the process.” 

Nino is sceptical about the draft law, as it would give someone like herself less control over the process.

“This process involves responsibilities for the surrogate mother as well as for me. If there is no contract, commitment or intermediary company to negotiate these issues, how is it going to work?” she asked.  

Rcheulishvili acknowledges there could be situations where the wellbeing of a child might be imperilled and welcomes stricter rules, including interviews with future parents to make sure that the child would be in safe hands.

“However, since this is not an adoption and the person who gives birth to a child is not the child’s parent, how is it going to be controlled? This should be taken into account too,” she said.

Eka said that she received no psychological support from the surrogacy agency and argued that an amended law should focus more on support of the surrogate mothers, both financially and emotionally.

“I personally would never do it selflessly and I think no one would,” she said. “It is very difficult, more difficult than carrying your own child.” 

This publication was prepared under the "Amplify, Verify, Engage (AVE) Project" implemented with the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway.

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