Surrogacy in India: blessing or bad business?

baby walk

Mother Jones has produced an interesting article on the surrogacy business in India. Entitled “Inside India’s Rent-a-Womb Business”, written by Scott Carney, and published in the Human Rights section of the online magazine, one knows before reading what the perspective on the industry will be: not favorable.

And some of that is inevitable. India legalized surrogacy in 2002. Since then it has gone largely unregulated. The business has grown rapidly as word of its relatively low cost spreads worldwide. A surrogacy in India from fertilization to C-section delivery costs $15,000 to $20,000. A home grown surrogacy with an American mother is around $50,000-$100,000. That’s undeniably a good deal and has enable many middle class families the ability to even consider surrogacy. Once a choice they were priced out of.

Additionally, while the lifestyle choices of an American woman are unknowable, the culture in India demands a certain clean living. “ One of the nicest things about [India] is that the women don’t drink or smoke,” observed Jordan, a surrogacy customer interviewed by Carney.

Recently the somewhat common practice of dorming the surrogates during their pregnancy has come under criticism. In the Akanksha Infertility Clinic, a place popularized by Oprah, the mothers are all housed throughout their pregnancy. Many women share a single room and all meals and medical care is provided. No one has asserted any kind of ill-treatment, but the circumstances appear unusual to Western eyes.

Many of the clients at the clinic regard the group living situation as an “insurance policy”. "When I was told by my doctor they could get someone in Stockton [California], I don't know what they're eating, what they're doing. Their physical environment would have been a concern for me," said Sacha Kopin, a surrogacy client interviewed by Carney. "The way they have things set up here is that the surrogate's sole purpose is to carry a healthy baby for someone."

No doubt, it’s a system fraught with questions. Is it ethical to pay a poor woman “below market” for a service even though “below market” for us is a whole lot of money for her, more than she’d make in several years. Are they treating the birthing mothers as incubator property or a precious gift to be protected? Until there is better regulation, answering those questions is the responsibility of the infertile couple looking to create a family.

Source: Mother Jones


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