A new study published in The Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law reveals that the number of couples in western countries who are opting to "hire wombs", also known as surrogacy, has increased by almost three times over the last five years.
Commercial surrogacy, where couples who are unable to have children of their own can pay other women to have their babies, is banned in Britain but is legal in the United States and other countries including India.
Researchers led by Marilyn Crawshaw from University of York found that the number of surrogate mothers hired, usually through Indian agencies, has gone up from 47 in 2007 to 133 in 2011 with the process usually costing around $16,000 to $32,000.
"We have clinicians in this country who have links with overseas clinics. That was stopped with international adoption years ago. I don't think the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority have been strong enough on this. There is concern about child trafficking. The World Health Organisation held a meeting on this. Parents desperate to have children will pay thousands of pounds to foreign agencies to arrange the birth of their child", Crawshaw said.