We are Pakistani citizens applying for Canadian permanent residence. We’re considering a surrogacy program in Ukraine. If our baby is born via surrogacy, can we bring our baby to Canada using our permanent residence status? — Faiza
Surrogacy in Islam is a sensitive subject. I’d urge you to discuss the matter with an Islamic lawyer in Pakistan before starting any program. As you probably know, the high court in Pakistan has decreed that surrogacy is un-Islamic and illegal — this doesn’t change because you’ve moved overseas. As long as you’re citizens, you are still constrained by Islamic law.
Let’s address your more general question first… Permanent residence in Canada does not bypass the ban on surrogacy under Islamic law in Pakistan. In order to bring your baby home, you will need to obtain three things:
1. The baby must apply to be a citizen of some country. Ukraine doesn’t grant citizenship for surrogacy babies born there, so you will need to apply for “citizenship by decent” from your own country.
2. The baby needs a passport to if you intend to travel internationally, whether to return home to Canada or Pakistan.
3. Depending on where you will travel, the baby may also need a visa to enter your final country of destination.
Permanent residence will give you one of these three requirements… it will allow the baby to enter Canada without a visa, but that’s only one hurdle. You still need citizenship and a passport. There’s more about passports and surrogacy in the GHuide.
Permanent residence does not allow the baby to get a Canadian citizenship or passport. If the baby is born in Kiev, the only option will be to apply for Pakistani citizenship at your consulate. That’s going to be a very difficult challenge given the legal and religious prohibitions on surrogacy in Islam.
You can try to persuade your consulate that the baby was born naturally to you and your husband in Kiev — but I think they would find that story hard to believe. They’ll probably ask to verify that you were the birth mother with hospital records (which do not exist).
Your better option would be to try surrogacy in a country where you can apply for a local passport (such as the United States, where the baby can get US citizenship and passport). But even then the baby will need a visa to enter Pakistan, and you may be asked questions about why the baby was born in the United States and not at home.
Surrogacy in Islam
In general, surrogacy is illegal in Islam, and Muslim countries have largely banned the practice. Out of respect for the religion, I’ll defer to an expert on questions of Islamic law. In this case, I consulted the 2005 book Islamic Principles on Family Planning.
There is a current fatwa banning surrogacy for a few reasons. First, in Islam it’s considered adultery to introduce the sperm of a man into a woman who is not his wife. That extends to a man impregnating a woman who is not his wife with an in-vitro conceived embryo. In this case the baby would be the legal child of the birth mother and her husband regardless of who the egg and sperm donors were.
Second, the IVF process to conceive the embryos is only permissible if the egg and sperm are both from the married couple. It’s also unlawful to put such an embryo into another woman’s uterus. Basically, IVF is allowed only if the husband and wife conceive the embryos themselves and carry the pregnancy themselves.
Finally, pregnancy and childbirth is considered a blessing in Islam, even to degree that women who die in childbirth are treated as religious martyrs. Given its exalted status, it would be unethical to commercialize childbirth. It would be fully immoral for a woman to hire another to carry her pregnancy for profit (even for reimbursement of expenses). Any payments made in a surrogacy agreement further undermines the sanctity of childbirth.
For the sake of the baby, you should never begin a surrogacy journey until you have a clear strategy to bring the baby safely home. Please talk to a local lawyer and find out if such a path exists.
If you will be living in Canada, you may also try to perform surrogacy in Canada. There are challenges with this — mostly the long time needed to find a surrogate. But it may be the most realistic option available.
I hope this helps.
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