Womb for hire

Posted on | oktober 21, 2011 | No Comments

Approximate Surrogacy Cycle Cost at a reputed hospital in India is about US $ 22 to 35k. Add IVF/ICSI cost of about US $ 2 to 3k, you can have a child through a surrogate in under US $ 40k. That’s an attractive package because the same cost in US is 50 to 100k. Commercial Surrogacy is not illegal in India. That and a reasonably efficient medical technology (at least for those who can afford it) at a globally competitive price makes India a popular destination for fertility tourism. For example check Med Tourism Co, LLC, an international medical travel facilitation company registered in the State of Texas from their website here.

Though surrogacy as an assisted procedure to get a human baby is a debated issue worldwide with enough loose moral, ethical, social and geo-political strings, in India surrogacy arrangements continue to be governed by contract amongst parties (legally under Contracts Act) as there is no legislation controlling surrogacy. Wikipedia contains a page that describes the guidelines given by Indian Council for Medical Research (see here) but do not get confused by the guide line ‘…such an arrangement should not be for commercial purposes’ . It does not stop commercial surrogacy – just implies that a contract between parties for a surrogacy arrangement can not involve someone who declares the surrogacy as a trade. The fees and compensation for the surrogates – and most importantly for the medical agents that handle the arrangement – is very much there. If someone gives you blood and you return the favor by paying him 1000 bucks, that’s no commerce in India (save and except for the fact that he needed those 1000 bucks badly and offer that favor routinely).

Different countries have different laws for surrogacy. Saudi Arabia and Italy do not allow women to surrogate, Hong Kong and Israel impose almost impossible-to-comply conditions, UK allow the surrogate mother to retain the right to determine the child and no contracting or commissioning parents have legal ascendency over her. World is sharply divided on the issue of surrogacy. It looks like humanity has prematurely attained a medical advancement – prematurely, because social and ethical boundaries have not spread enough to handle the relationship, heir-ship or simply human issues that are involved between a human baby growing inside a woman’s body for 9 months  and coming into the world.

Yet in India there is an ever growing pool of young women agreeable to rent their womb for commensurate compensation. Amit Agarwal, a pro-blogger in India with 19,300 followers blogged on the issue as: Surrogate Mother Agencies in India; Outsourcing Pregnancy. It’s an interesting blog but I find the comments to the blog post even more interesting in as much as all the commenters either wanted to be surrogates or were looking for the surrogates. That’s an indirect measure of the demand and Indian supply potential, I guess.

Surrogacy has serious issues. In India a baby born out of surrogacy gets surrogate’s citizenship ( Balaz Vs. Union of India ). It is uncertain if the agreement by a woman to surrogate is altruistic or purely commercial. It is next to impossible, in Indian context, to be fully sure about the genetic history of a surrogate – the commissioning parents have to depend on the medical agents for that virtually blindly. Whether the surrogacy is genetic (the surrogate supplies the ova) or gestational (the surrogate receives a gamete fertilized in vitro) the baby inherits the immunity or the lack of it from the gestational carrier. I am not going into more human issues about whether it will be proper to call the surrogate a mother or a carrier. I do not stand convinced by the medical propaganda that surrogates feel fulfilled morally by the act – like it’s an ultimate gift a woman can give to a couple or a person otherwise incapable of enjoying the bliss of raising a child  in a family.

It is said that surrogates go through special procedures to distance themselves from the babies so they do not feel a loss of a mother to baby relationship. I am not sure. I am not a woman.

I wonder how it might feel for me to part with a living portion of my body, one that I will never witness to grow, talk to me or play with me. I try to imagine how it might feel that one who carries nutrients and cells that I made him/her up with will never know me. I feel that one has to be very altruistic or really poor to taste those feelings.

AUTHOR: Pabitra Mukhopadhyay
URL: http://pabitraspeaks.com
E-MAIL: mukhopadhyay.pabitra [at] gmail.com


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