“BABY SELLING” THE BOOMING BUSINESS: A THREAT TO THE INDIAN ECONOMY
– Ms. Manpreet Kaur Rajpal
Assistant Professor & Head of the Department,
Indore Institute of Law, Indore (M.P)
The overwhelming desire to have a Child is the product of a deep-seated, instinctive and evolutionary urge to perpetuate the species and pass on the genetic material to another. It is this archetypal desire, embedded in our collective unconscious, which often spurs Human Beings to have children at any cost, come what may. “It is this irrepressible drive that propels man to go to any extent to propagate his genes,” says Nirja Chawla, a Gynecologist, adding,”Motherhood is important for completion of self.”1 To this biological drive add the socially conditioned expectations of the role and function of a woman and you know this is the reason why so many people flock to fertility clinics in the region. And it is a blatant exploitation of this desire to have Children that makes millionaires out of Gynecologists in the business who laughs all the way to the bank.
Medicine has made some remarkable advances in the field of Reproductive Technology. The term Reproductive Technology refers to various medical procedures that are designed to alleviate infertility, or the inability of a couple to produce a child of their own. These include Artificial insemination, In-Vitro Fertilization or “Test-tube” Babies, and Surrogate Motherhood. When successful, these technologies are the miracle of life for couples who have often spent years trying to have a child, and who have exhausted all other avenues for conceiving a child of their own.
BABY SELLING: SURRROGACY
Surrogacy is the reproductive technique that attempts to obtain pregnancy by means other than by intercourse. Surrogacy is a ray of hope to millions of couples who are deprived of the precious gift of the divine in the form of a child. This proves to be a godsend to childless couples. Surrogate Mother is a woman who bears a child on behalf of other parents. Surrogacy is designed to alleviate infertility. Surrogacy is a boon to the infertile couples. It is even usedby gay male couples, lesbians etc who cannot have a child of their own.
But at the same time there are arguments against Surrogacy. Surrogate mothering allows a woman to receive monetary compensation for carrying another person’s baby and allows childless couples to experience parenthood; opponents debate the issue of whether a baby is being purchased. Nevertheless, the baby is genetically a product of the parents.Certainly, the most serious objection to Commercial Surrogacy is that it reduces Children to objects of barter by putt ing a price on t hem. Most of the arguments in favor of Surrogacyareattemptstoavoidthis problem. Opponents of Surrogacy insist that any attempt to deny or minimize the charge of baby selling fails, and thus Surrogacy involves the Sale of Children.Thus, Surrogate Motherhood; one of the latest Reproductive Technologies, has raised complex ethical, Social, legal and Economic Issues. My paper particularly focuses on its economic issues.
Surrogacy has turned the Dream of so many childless couple into a reality. But as it is said, “With roses there are thorns even”. The same way Surrogacy even has a darker side, which adversely affects the economy of the society by augmenting the disparity between the rich and indigent. Following are the various Economic Demerits of Surrogacy especially in Indian Scenario:
• Concerns of Exploitation
• Loss to the Economy
• Surrogacy Contracts
• Expensive process
• Booming Business
Concerns of Exploitation
Probably the most common of the Surrogacy issues revolving around Ethics of Surrogacy is the perceived exploitation of the poor. This scenario suggests that the “Rich” intended parents barrage the “Poor” Surrogate Mother with fistfuls of cash, swaying her financially to destroy her psyche. Surrogacy involves potential for Exploitation of the Surrogate. Most agree that Commercial Surrogacy has the potential to be exploitative. The combination of desperate infertile couples, low-income Surrogates, and Surrogacy brokers with varying degrees of moral scruples raises the prospect that the entire commercial enterprise can be exploitative. Most Surrogates are women of average means not destitute but certainly motivated by the money.The fees alone should not be considered exploitation but rather an inducement to do something that the Surrogate would not otherwise do. Money functions as an inducement to do many things that people would not normally do, without being exploitative.The Primary concerns for women expressed by critics of Surrogacy are the overwhelming likelihood that poor or minority women will disproportionately serves as Surrogate Mothers.
Stanley notes that poor women might be more enticed to serve as Surrogate Mothers because of the limited economic resources available to them.2 Also, Shanley writes that, “In a society where employment opportunity is as stratified by race as it is in the United States, it is not irrationalto think that Black and Hispanic women would often agree to be GestationalSurrogates for a lower fee than would white women”.3 Scholars like Shanley are concerned that poor or minority women will become breeders for white and middle class women.
Dorothy Robert is one scholar who shares the same concern. Roberts argues that because AfricanAmerican women generally earn less moneythan Caucasian women they will not only be more likely to serve as Surrogate Mothers, but in disputes over custody of the child, African American women and poor women would be less likely to challenge the Intended Parents because they are probably less able to afford legal counsel and a lengthy trail.4 While there are no solid figures to prove conclusively that minority women or working class women disproportionately serve as Surrogate Mothers, Shanleysuggests that a look at the International Surrogacy market indicates that this is likely the situation in the United States.The disproportionate use of women from less developed and developing countries shows that serious race stratification exists in Surrogate Motherhood practices, especially in cases of Gestational Surrogacy because the Surrogate Mother’s genetic material is not needed to conceive the child.Further, looking into the Indian Scenario, it’s not exaggeration to say that India has became a Hub of Surrogacy especially after the Supreme Court verdict in Manzi’s case which held that “Commercial Surrogacy is legal in India” and so the legal prohibition of Surrogacy in some countries also leads people to come to India. Another contributing factor to Indian Surrogacy industry is the low cost Surrogacy.For example, a 37- year-old Russian came to Bhopal as the expense for Surrogacy is prohibitive in her country ranges between Rs. 15, 00,000 and 20, 00,000 as compared to the Rs. 200,000 cost in Bhopal.
Women, who undertake these assignments in India, usually come from lower class to lower middle class backgrounds, are married, and are often in need of money. Their need for money is so acute that more than often, childless couples can negotiate a better price as a result of competition. The amount of money given to a Surrogate Mother in India may appear very miniscule from any reasonable perspective, however, the amount may serve as the economic lifeblood for the families, and will be spent on the needs of the family, a house, education of the children, medical treatment. These are basic needs and may seem trivial from a notably rich westerner’sperspective, but they become mega needs in a country like India, which lack social safety nets, and where the governance structure is attuned only to the needs of the rich and powerful sectors of the society.
But the mind boggling fact is that the industry of infant trade, i.e. Baby Farming, is not bringing money in to the hands of poor. The compensation they get is very less compared not only to the international standards, even under Indian standards. But the economic compulsion makes them to take this route.
Now let’s try to understand the statistics of compensation in Surrogacy and then decide whether it’s exploitive or not:
The woman gets around Rs. 3 lakhs for making a baby.
Days involved in making a baby =About 276
Days for tests = A month =30 days.
It is better to have rest period of at least 60 days after the child birth.
Totally 366 days of work to bring a child into the world.
This work is a continuous 24 hours a day.So in a single day woman works three shifts at least.
No holidays through ought the work period. When we calculate the holidays and lunch breaks during work 3 hours of lunch break every day ( woman works for 3 shifts) this 3 hours should be multiplied with days
3*366 =1098 hours that means about 84 days of work
Add this to the 366 days calculated earlier 366+84= 450 days of work.
Then the compensation for general holidays Sundays etc work out to be another 70 days
Totally it will be a continuous work of 520 days.
Now a day’s no farm worker doing laborious tasks work more than 6 hours a day. To equate the work of child farming with the farm industry multiply the 520 days of work with 24 hours a day and divide it by 6 hours then
520*24/6 =2080 day of work.
The woman gets 3 lakhs then her daily wages will be 3,00,000 /2080 =144.23
And Rs. 144.23 is comparable with the minimum pay prescribed the govt. of India, but work is not comparable for any other works.This is just for work no emotional attachment / concerns etc. The farm work commonly does not have any life threatening conditions like pregnancy. If the woman has to have a Cesarean, life threatening consequences etc are not at all paid.
• Is it not a form of exploitation?
• There are every chance of woman being emotional or physical wreck but who is going to pay for it ?
• Where is the compensation for the emotional trauma she has to undergo for the rest of her life?
In our so called International Baby Farms after contracting the woman they keep them in houses along with other such women food and T.V entertainment provided and call as motherly care. This is just prevent them eating something undesirable, to get them away from having abortion, Or just prevent them from running away. Is it not cruelty against humanity? In olden days even the slaves were fed and provided shelter. Further, the process of Pregnancy and child hand over is not as straight as they advertise in the promotional literature. So the attrition rate of workers at those centers is very high. They won’t talk about the conditions inside the center for the fear of their life. Genetically the westerners are bigger than Indian women. So their fetus will be bigger than what an Indian woman carries for a full term. The method of making her to carry it is, grow the embryo in her over 7.5 months and induces miscarriage.
The argument for this is there will be less labor pain there will be miscarriage in nature etc. To do this they add medicines in her diet without her knowledge and also without the knowledge of the person who feeds her. Don’t you think that it is a direct onslaught on her liberty?Thus, Commercial Surrogacy is not a boon to the uneducated poor of India. The countries which have banned Commercial Surrogacy on their soil are exporting it to India.Don’t you think it as outright racism they are discriminating against the poor of India. By asking our poor to do what they don’t want to be done by their fellow citizens. Even among those Surrogates hired by the so called ARTs how many belong to the upper class /high caste may be almost nil. Nobody from wealthy sections of the society take it as occupation. So it is a discrimination against the low caste poor. Mostly the beneficiaries are rich and affluent high caste families. It is argued that this is a form of exploitation wherein one takes advantage of another’s economic need to secure something for considerably less than its value. A’Priceless’ bargain is made for a small price. At times it has been equated to a form of prostitution and by others to ‘Organ Trafficking,’ wherein working class women are forced by economic necessity to sell their ‘wombs.’5
A study conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development reported that 46% of Surrogates in Delhi and 44% in Mumbai received around INR 3 lakh to INR 4 lakh for their services. Most of these women were working as domestic helps and were poor, illiterate or semi literate. These women were not given any copy of the written contract, they were not even aware of the clauses contained therein. Besides, most of them had minimal understanding of the medical procedures they had been subjected to.6 In nut shell, Surrogacy inevitably opens a way to exploit the poor women. Because of a dire need for money and the monetary gains associated with becoming a Surrogate Mother, the women mostly cannot give full and informed consent because the process is tainted by monetary exchange.7 In other words, women, especially poor women and minorities, are essentially coerced into serving as Surrogate Mothers as a product of their economic circumstances.
Loss to the Economy
Surrogacy is a complex and challenging topic that is plagued with controversies for the past several decades. India created history by being the first country to legalize Commercial Surrogacy in 2002. In most of the countries in the world it is still not legal. Many countries permit onlyAltruistic Surrogacy like the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and USA.Internationally, India has become the preferred destination for couples desiring pregnancy through Surrogacy although it is difficult to estimate the prevalence of Surrogacy in India. The Reproductive Tourism industry is valued at a whopping INR 25,000 crore.8 India has become the preferred destination for foreign couples desiring pregnancy through Surrogacy. The idea created from the data available on the Surrogacy industry paints an image that India is earning huge profits and the economy of India is strengthen by the flourishing Surrogacy Industry. But let’s try to look it from a different perspective.
Consider the cost of International Clients.
A babythat comes to this world comes here with mouth and two hands work. The International Clients pay around Rs 8 lakhs to get a baby that works about $16000. For the amount we are losing one human being. You cannot say otherwise that human being wouldn’t have come and we would have lost even those $16000.
Consider the Scenario
Because of the high profit International Clients these farms farm babies for them. Infertile Indian couples who cannot afford those costs forgo their own baby. They remain unhappy let us presume. This unhappiness leads to less productivity Loss for the Indian economy. The human being that would have come to life in this country and have contributed to the welfare of this country is transferred elsewhere. Loss to the Indian economyin the long run. Presumption is that the baby would have done well in life and earned more than for what it has been sold. This case is very probable because the Indian middle class cannot invest about 8 lakhs on a baby. But if the baby is born they can bring up it well and the baby earns more than this amount within years. As the children support their parents in old age the burden on the Government to support the elderly is lessened. So profit to the Government.
A Small Calculation:
Baby created and transferred to over sea clients fetches about 8 lakhs.
Let us assume the same baby is created for a middle class family of India having a household income of about 8 lakhs per year. Spending on the education and other needs of the baby till it attains working age let us assume about 1.5 lakhs per year this works out to be around 30 lakhs. This is the expenditure of the family not that of the govt. Any how they would have spent it so we can safely say there is no profit or loss as for as the economy is considered.
From the point of National Economythe expenditure is nil.The baby let us assume groves and gets a job paying about 40000 a month just like its parents. Don’t ask me why it should not get a lees paying job, if it is your question my answer is why the baby should not get a very high paying job or why it should not become a scholar, scientist, and researcher and earn a lot more than the assumed salary.
40000*12 months =4.8 lakhs per year
For the sake of calculation let us assume the salary remains the same for the working life of the child and child works for 30 years.
Then 4.8*30=144 lakhs.
So the opportunity cost of a baby is a loss of Rs.1.36 crores. For the economy, So it is just a myth that economy is gaining from International baby trade. Because of this trade Indian couples are losing an opportunity to have their own child. It has been written in some propagating websites that the trade is beneficial for both the sides they are true. Those are the sides of baby buyers and ART centers not the women who are forced to become Surrogates.
The question on Legality of Surrogacy Contract revolves around the models of Rights Jurisprudence and Regimes of State Responsibility; the former insists on the importance of institution of rights as such approach represents majority’s promise to minorities that their dignity and equality will be respected, and the latter addresses the issue of the extent of state intervention to render such contracts unenforceable and illegal.9 Thus it is pertinent to analyze the issue of validity of Surrogacy Contracts in light of the above mentioned Jurisprudential models fromtwo perspectives; Firstly, SurrogacyContracts from the perspective of autonomy of Surrogate Mother, and Secondly, Surrogacy Contracts from the perspective of interests of child, wherein the aim would be to make a case for adopting best interest approach while deciding on custody issue.
‘Do Surrogacy contracts amount to Baby Selling ‘ is the most crucial question while determining the validity of such contracts in relation to the argument of autonomy of women while rendering her services in terms of child bearing. This question can be answered from two angles, Firstly, Surrogacy arrangements that do amount to Baby Selling and which can be termed as Commercial Surrogacy ; Secondly, Surrogacy arrangements that do not amount to Baby Selling, known as Altruistic Surrogacy.
According to critics and medical professionals, in cases of CommercialSurrogacy, the payment of the Surrogate Mother constitutes baby selling and thus is morally wrong andillegal. Such arrangements are considered to be coercive and exploitative as they require the Gestational Mother to give up certain legitimate moral claims in relation to her pregnancy and the child. There can be general conceptualization that the reason for Surrogate Mothers participating in such arrangements is economic inducement especially in less developed countries like India, where poor women consider their wombs as a source to support their livelihood. Such arrangements can be considered to be exploitative in nature as they are not only encouraging Baby Selling but also diminish the Dignity of Women’s reproductive capacities and the inherent value of the children by commodifying them.
The Jurisprudential argument supportive of Commercial arrangements isthat in a rights based society a woman has a right to procreate and can in furtherance of that right claim monetary compensation for the gestation period fromthe adoptive parents.10 Such an argument can be justified in the light of Dworkin’s interpretation of the concept of right that an individual has a ‘right to do a wrong’ i.e. to commit mistakes and thereafter correct himself/ herself without any requirement of state intervention.11 However such an argument cannot stand valid in the eyes of law because Commercial Surrogacy arrangements are not only concerned with the rights of the Surrogate Mother but due consideration is also to be given to the interests of the child, who in such a case is treated as a commodity and thus his/ her value is undermined by such an approach to fulfill the desire of parenting and that his/ her value cannot be determined in terms of pecuniary limits.
Another disagreement with Commercial Surrogacy arrangements is the economic compulsion that forces women to become Surrogate Mothers, thus it can be observed that it is not her free will that encourages her but the responsibility to incur her family expenses through such work. Such arrangements can be termed as being exploitative because these women lack the bargaining power as compared to the economically well settled adoptive parents. Thus there is a need for a legal mechanism to protect these women from being exploited in a manner that economic factor is not the sole reason for entering into Commercial Surrogacy Contracts.
Horsburgh is opposed to Surrogacy because he believes Surrogates are physically exploited once they have signed contracts agreeing to give birth to babies for clients. If there is a reason to abort the foetus, because of medical reasons or client’s demands, the Surrogate Mother must comply. To regulate the Surrogacy Contracts different laws are passed in various countries. In countries like India, where there is no legislation regulating SurrogacyContracts, the parties participating in Surrogacy arrangements can be covered under the informal system as they are not covered and not regulated under the formal system which provides formality and protection of law to the corners of the society taken on board in terms of precise definition . Thus the parties under the informal system come up with own norms to regulate their social relations with each other which also implies that whether law recognizes or not, range of people do exist and function while organizing their own affairs independent of law which attaches much more centrality to the individual as compared to the formal system.
The rights model of Dynamic Jurisprudence is based on mutual respect for running a relationship of trust and intimacy. Thus the Surrogate Mother and adoptive parents have to recognize the rights of each other and develop respect through which flexible norms can be created considering interests of both parties as well as the child. Though these norms are created by the parties themselves, in absence of regulation, exploitation is most likely to occur.
According to the 228th Law commission Report
“Surrogacy in India is legitimate because no Indian law prohibits Surrogacy. To determine the legality of Surrogacy agreements, the Indian ContractAct, 1872 would apply and thereafter the enforceability of any such agreement would be within the domain of Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC). Alternatively, the Biological Parent’s can also move an application under the Guardians and Wards Act 1890 for seeking an order of appointment or a declaration as the guardian of the Surrogate Child.”12
Hence, it is very clear that the Surrogacy arrangements in India are governed by the Indian Contract Act, 1872.13 But for attracting the provisions of Indian Contract Act, the Surrogacy arrangement must fulfill the terms and conditions mentioned in the act.Under Section 10 of the Contract Act,14 all agreements are contracts, if they are made by free consent of parties competent to contract, for a law ful consideration and with a lawful object, and are not expressly declared to be void. Therefore, if any Surrogacy agreement satisfies these conditions, it is an enforceable contract.
Thereafter, under Section 9, CPC,15 it can be the subject of a civil suit before a civil court for adjudication ofall disputes relating to the Surrogacy agreement and for a declaration/injunction as to the relief prayed for. Though the Surrogacy arrangements in India are governed by Contract act but it is often seen that within the Surrogacy arrangement, the experience of facing stigma results in the curtailing of possibilities of greater participation for the Surrogates. Their ability to negotiate the terms of their arrangement with other actors is severely compromised.
Furthermore, any possibility of Surrogates communicating with each other is effectively and deliberately eliminated. Being compelled to make Surrogacy invisible in their homes, hospitals, and neighborhoods, and being forced to maintain a distance from, and being unable to interact uninhibitedly with, Commissioning Parents, Doctors, Agents, Family members, and even with each other, leads them to experience this work as a decidedly unique and isolating phenomenon. The Surrogates seek to rationalize their choice as socially acceptable, deploying various cultural meanings and references to buttress their claim.
The stigmatized nature of the work also very concretely disadvantages them and makes the arrangement in the current form socially undesirable. Yet the norms that are transgressed, such as the restriction of reproduction within patriarchal institutions and the assignment of gender roles, specifically those of women, are also not socially desirable. The burden of social disapproval, strained personal relations, and other difficulties arising fromengaging in Surrogacy means that this is a highly restricted and ‘risky’ option, chosen only by those who are disadvantaged and marginalized. And due to all these insurmountable factors mostly the Surrogates are not in a position to dictate their terms and conditions which further results in a Surrogacy Contract, supporting the Commissioning Parents and ARTs clinics.
According to Kembrell the practice of Surrogacy exploits women economically, emotionally and physically.An important factor is that most women who get involved as Surrogates do so because they are in desperate need of the money to maintain their family.In addition, agents are often involved and arrange contracts of questionable legality. Those contracts require the women to undergo all the rigors of child bearing, and eventually they have to give the child away. The Surrogate Mothers are often unaware of their legal rights and due to their financial situation they cannot afford the services of attorneys. Once the Surrogate Mother has signed the Contract, it is impossible for them to escape.
In addition to it, Surrogacy Contracts are even inappropriate because they leave out the interests of the infants, who are not the contracting parties. Further, Nelson and Nelson argue that even the most ‘Meticulously Worded’ Contract cannot safeguard the Surrogate; this is because of the current patterns of patriarchy, the non-volitional nature of the functioning of the woman’s body, pregnancy is a natural body function that the surrogate cannot help, and, most importantly, because relinquishing control over the rearing of the child is an essential element of the contract.16 Hence, Nelson and Nelson point to fundamental, structural contradictions that make contract pregnancies unacceptable.
To sum up, Surrogacy Contract disregards the interests of the Child and Surrogate Mother and therefore cannot be justified. In a case where permeability is allowed and Surrogacy relations are regulated formally, the Court has to realize that the child lacks legal capacity to take decisions on major matters and thus a more child self centered view of the family and social future is to be adopted. The Court should have a good faith concern for the child’s welfare. Safeguards are required in cases where no thought has been given to the interests of the child in a Surrogate Contract.
At the same time, Surrogacy Contracts which involve payment amount to Baby Selling and there is a need for a formal legal mechanism to protect such women from being exploited on economic necessity grounds. This also applies to Surrogacy Contracts which do not amount to Baby Selling but involve social factors compelling women to act as Surrogate Mothers. However Altruistic arrangements deductive of socialand economic compulsions can be justified on basis of social good and thus such arrangements need to be given certain amount of formality in order to regulate the relations between the parties and to ensure that Surrogate women are not exploited which is the major concern of feminist ideology.
Surrogacy is extremely expensive. I truly wish I could say otherwise. It is appropriate here to say that it’s exclusively for the wealthy. In cases of Commercial Surrogacy, the exchange of money accompanies the pregnancy arrangement. The Surrogate is compensated financially for carrying and birthing a baby, whereas the Intended Parent are responsible for financing the entire pregnancy. The cost of using a Surrogate Parent is extremely high and can be in excess of $100,000, a cost that eliminates it as an option for many infertile couples. However, Surrogate Mothering provides the Surrogate with an opportunity to fulfill the desires of a couple and receive compensation for her services. The infertile couple is responsible for all costs related to the pregnancy, including compensation for lost work, medical bills, maternity clothes and legal fees and documents. The Intended Parent may consult an agency, which means acquiring additional expense to handle the essentials, such as preliminary screening procedures, maternity insurance and travel and legal issues.
But Altruistic Surrogacy is an exception to it as it is motivated by gratitude and love towards the Intended parents. It is an absolutely helping gesture which has nothing to do with money though in it even medical expenses of maternity are reimbursed to the surrogate but not the remuneration of its reproductive labor.
In 2002, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) published a study on the potential India has to develop a medical tourism sector. This was picked up on by the then Finance Minister of India who wanted India to become a Global Health Destination. In order to stimulate this development he came up with measures to facilitate a medical tourism industry, including infrastructuralimprovements. Also, hospitals that treat foreign patients were to receive financial incentives including low interest rates on loans and low import duties on medical equipment. In addition, the Ministry of External Affairs introduced a medical visa, which allowed patients and their family members to stay in India for a maximum of 12 months. The Tourism Departments teamed up with Hospitals to attract foreign patients, and not without success: the number of medical tourists increased from 150,000 in 2005 to 450,000 in 2008 as stated in Chinai & Goswami, 2008.
During these years, fertility tourismhas also increased in popularity. The Reproductive Segment of the Indian medical tourism market is valued at more than $450 million a year. These fertility tourists do not all come fromWestern countries; India is also a popular destination for medical tourists from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand and Singapore. However, it appears that the state of Gujarat is particularly popular, especially among westerners.17 It is not only the efforts of India causing the increase in number of Surrogacy births on the South Asian subcontinent. As previously stated, many countries around the world prohibit Commercial Surrogacy Contracts and in other countries the enforcement of Surrogacy Contracts is significantly limited. Due to the restrictiveness of their own countries, desperate couples cross borders into Surrogacy-friendly countries, like India, to engage in a Surrogacy Contract arrangement here.While Commercial Surrogacy is also developing in other countries, another contributing factor to the rise in popularity of Surrogacy in India is that the patients find it easy to communicate with the English-speaking doctors. This also enables these doctors to promote Surrogacy in the press. As a result, the press only runs glorifying success stories and fails to pay attention to all the failed attempts. Clinics also sometimes use the media, particularly the Internet to deceive potential clients. Their websites often contain facts and fiction, as part of the marketing strategy as highlighted in Mulay& Gibson, 2006 and it is not uncommon for them to encourage couple to ignore the implemented laws regarding Surrogacy in their home country.
Surrogacy has become a Booming Business in last two decades. Apart from the Surrogate and Intended Parents there are array of people involved in this business for earning huge profits. The Infertile couples are exploited and misguided by the other players involved in Surrogacy namely Surrogacy clinics, Agents, Agencies, Medical Practitioners, Lawyers etc. A proponent of dire need to set up a specialized, appropriate authority to monitor ART is Ludhiana-based, Aurtria-trained IqbalAhuja, a pioneer of Infertility Treatment in the region, he is of the view that genuine practitioners have been marginalized in the race to notch up profits, often at the expense of vulnerable patients. Widespread and no-expenses-spared advertisements and the projections of an inflated success rate that is even more than the internationally acceptable standards, drag many customers who come quietly. There is an element of social embarrassment that prevents patients from discussing the choice of doctors openly.
“I don’t know much Science; neither do I understand other complicated details. All I know is that in order to hold my Child in my arms, I am willing to put up with any amount of pain and spend as much as is needed”, says Sukhjit. Incidentally, Sukhjit is not an illiterate villager but an engineer who is so desperate to have a baby that nothing else seems to matter. Others like Veena feel that her Husband will stray if she does not produce a child.
The reasons vary from fear of losing one’s Husband to facing the wrath and disapproval of the Mother-in-law. While social attitudes largely remain unchanged, the Mother-in-law remains the most persistent when it comes to seeking treatment at any cost, sayAhuja. She is of the view that while some cannot spend even Rs. 5,000 on advertisements while others can spend up to crores, Not only is the success rate exaggerated to woo customers; even the cost of the treatment is inflated. IVF may be required only in 10 to 15 percent of the cases and not in all cases and cost up to Rs 65,000. Patients often have to spend up to Rs. One to Two lakhs and even when IVF is not required, they might be told that it is. Not only this, people are also hired to pose for stage-managed photographs proclaiming the efficacy of the treatment.
It’s apparent that in the last nearly 20 years there has been an exponential growth of infertility clinics thatuse techniques requiring handling of spermatozoa or the oocyte outside the body, orthe use ofa surrogate mother.As of today, anyone can openinfertilityorAssistedReproductive Technology (ART) clinic; no permission is required to do so. There hasbeen, consequently a mushrooming of such clinics around the country. Such clinics are completely unregulated and unchecked and therefore many Unethical practices are undertaken in the process of Surrogacy like Sex Selection, Designer Baby etc to earn profits.
In view of the above, in public interest, it has become important to regulate the Global Flourishing Surrogacy industry as well as to monitor the functioning of such clinics to ensure that the services provided are ethical and thatthe medical, social and legal rights of all those concerned are protected. The Government shall lay detail procedures for Accreditation and Supervision of Infertility Clinics andrelated organizations such as semen banks, handling spermatozoa or oocytesoutside of the body, or dealing with gamete donors and Surrogacy, ensuring that thelegitimate rights of all concerned are protected, with maximum benefit to the infertilecouples/individuals within a recognized framework of ethics and good medical practice.
Surrogacy is the last hope of infertile couples to have their own Genetic Child. But, it is even appropriate here to say that the Commercialization of Surrogacy has raised fears of a black market and of baby selling and breeding farms; turning impoverished women into baby producers and the possibility of selective breeding at a price. Surrogacy degrades a pregnancy to a service and a baby to a product. Experience shows that as with any other commercial dealing, the customer lays down his/ her conditions before purchasing the goods, similar is the scenario in purchasing a Designer Baby via Surrogacy. The Intended Parents are the customers whom a Surrogate sells a customized child developed according to theirneed and desires. In maximum Surrogacy arrangements the Surrogate’s and Child’s interest is disregarded. The medical practitioners work according to the wish of the intended parents as they are the Payers. The intended parents are affluent and so are in a dominant position where they can exploit the poor surrogates by paying them less.
Slowly but steadily India is emerging as a popular destination for Surrogacy arrangements for many rich foreigners as the Indian Surrogacy Industry is unregulated.It’s high time that the Indian government shall take a stand and ban Commercial Surrogacy and safeguard the children’s from becoming a property of purchase and sale and stop this unethical booming business of baby selling.