Gestational surrogacy as a treatment for infertility is being practised in some well-known medical institutions in Tehran and some other cities in Iran. While the majority of Muslims in the world are Sunni, the majority of Iranians are Shiite. Most Sunni scholars do not permit surrogate motherhood, since it involves introducing the sperm of a man into the uterus of a woman to whom he is not married. Most Shiite scholars, however, have issued jurisprudential decrees (fatwas) that allow surrogate motherhood as a treatment for infertility, albeit only for legal couples. They regard this practice as transferring an embryo or fetus from one womb to another, which is not forbidden in Shiite jurisprudence. Nevertheless, there are some controversies concerning some issues such as kinship and inheritance. The main ethical concern of Iran’s experience with gestational surrogacy is the monetary relation between the intended couple and the surrogate mother. While monetary remuneration is practised in Iran and allowed by religious authorities, it seems to suffer from ethical problems. This article proposes that this kind of monetary relation should be modified and limited to reimbursement of normal costs. Such modification requires new legislation and religious decrees.
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Competing interests: None declared.
Provenance and peer review: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.