Written by Divya Kumari
Edited by Himanshi Shivani
Surrogacy is a technique of assisted reproduction where parents deliberately assign a gestational surrogate who will bear and care for their baby until birth. Basically, it’s “rent a womb”. Couples, who’re biologically unable to have a child or who simply don’t want to get pregnant, use surrogacy to start or grow their family. Gestational surrogacy is one of the methods that help those who are unable to have children become parents. It’s a process that requires medical and legal expertise, as well as a strong support process during the journey. The fact is gestational carriers have no genetic relationship to the children they carry.
This technique of surrogacy in India and Indian surrogates became progressively popular amongst deliberated parents because of the relatively low amount of pay and easy access offered by Indian surrogacy agencies. Clinics charged patients around $10,000 and $28,000 for the complete package, this represented roughly a third of the price of the procedure in the UK and a fifth of that in the US.
After surrogacy was legalized in India in 2002, India became “the hub of surrogacy”, mainly due to its low cost in India and the absence of strict legislation. According to a Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) report of 2012, the size of India’s surrogacy industry was a $2 billion a year. It was estimated that more than 3000 fertility clinics were engaged in this.
The biggest perturb with Indian surrogacy was the care of Indian women who wanted to be surrogates. Even if she was not financially forced into the process in the first place, a gestational carrier’s rights were rarely protected in the way they should be. In recent years, the Indian government had begun to invade “baby factories” run by different agencies, where surrogates are forced to live in dwellings with other surrogates until they give birth to the babies they’re carrying.
Proposed regulations for surrogacy in India are: Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill, 2013, Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, and 2019.
Law Commission of India (LCI) highlighted that there is a need to enact a law to regulate commercial surrogacy. In its 208 report, LCI recommended prohibiting commercial surrogacy for reasons such as prevalent use of surrogacy by foreigners, lack of a proper legal framework, exploitation of the surrogate mothers who may have been coerced to become a surrogate due to poverty and lack of education.
One on hand, it provides infertile couples or couples from the LGBTQ community with a chance to become parents, and on the other hand, it exploits surrogate mothers, children get abandoned and rackets are run for illegal organ trade, embryo import, etc. So, the question is; is surrogacy really worth it?