Surrogacy in India, Far from the Troubling
It has been a long time now when India started emerging as a new place for surrogacy. In last few years, a lot of water has been flown under the bridge and the overall situation of surrogacy market has been improved immensely. There are infertility clinics like International Fertility Centre; New Delhi that works on the total treatment of infertility and surrogacy is an integral part of it. Dr. Rita Bakshi who heads the organization with a vast experience of more than 20 years and thousands of successful cases vigilantly looks into every case. She ensures the legal and ethical aspects are taken care of and there is nothing that violates the law of the land. There had been many troubling questions and actual incidents in the past to support the criticism and objections by social activists, doctors and journalists. The situation has improved a lot and the industry has attained a great level of maturity and the troubling questions are no more. The major issues or objections that used to exist in the past have been resolved and with the combined efforts of doctors, social activists and government it has become much clear and clean process.
1. Ethical 1issue: The fundamental reason of increase of surrogacy industry is certainly the big money associated with it. In a country like India where lower middle class or labourers are struggling hard to earn Rs 200-300 per day an amount of few lakhs is certainly a pulling factor. Unethical practices were prevailing where either the couple was not used to provide adequate or whatever was promised to them.
a) There used to be agents and middlemen working as a racket to bring poor surrogate mothers with false promises of huge money and later washing their hands by paying peanuts. The ethical clinics like IFC works on the total transparency and there is a direct dealing with the intended parents and surrogate mother.
b) There were cases when foreign couples were made with false promises of surrogacy and then handing over a baby to them that is not genetically connected at all. Some pre-fertilized eggs were used to make the pregnancy happen. These cases came into light when the respective countries denied passport to the baby because there law didn’t allow.
c) There were many cases reported in the past where illegal business of human organ transplantation was being carried out in the name of surrogacy. Poor surrogate women or their husbands were forced to give kidney or other organs with a remuneration of few bucks. Government has made many changes in the law and legislature related to surrogacy to prevent such cases. Surrogacy clinics have to follow stringent norms and have to keep track of every case they are handling. Dr. Rita Bakshi and her team at IFC accept every case with thorough investigation and scrutiny process and ensure that total transparency is maintained.
d) There used to be least botheration about the total welfare of the surrogate mothers. They were left unattended during the surrogate pregnancy, had to live in extremely unhygienic and unbearable conditions, there was hardly any care take n regarding her physical and mental health. Critics termed it as ‘complete exploitation of the basic rights of a woman’. The situation has improved a lot in the last few years and clinics are taking care of the physical and emotional aspects as well as social security. IFC ensures that the surrogate mothers are covered under insurance, they live in completely hygienic and best of the living condition, there is continuous monitoring of the physical health, and counselling and emotional support is provided to the surrogate mothers. Not only the surrogate mothers, but their family members and own kids are also well supported.
e) There was a big question raised by the social activists regarding the fundamental concept of ‘lending a womb’ for surrogacy. However, there has been a clear stand by the supports and even surrogate mothers regarding its validity and relevance. In a country where a big number of people are living under poverty line, there is complete uncertainty of wages and employment, no social security and assurance by the government and high dependency on rains for harvesting there are tough times for the poor. The situation becomes worse with the unexpected or accidental death of earning member in a family that depends on agriculture. The widow and her children have no moral and financial support. Surrogate pregnancy has become a great help to a lot of such women and they have been able to raise their own children with good living standard. Ethical infertility clinics like International Fertility Centre works on this with extreme attention and they ensure that surrogate woman gets the best return for her efforts in carrying a surrogate pregnancy.
2. Legal issues: There had been a lot of legal issues in the past because of ignorance, carelessness or unethical practices of surrogacy clinics. The law has been made stringent now and there are hardly such cases get reported.
a) There had been cases where surrogacy was carried out for gays and lesbian couples from foreign origin. The legal documents were denied to the baby because of restriction of such relationship in the Indian constitution. Norms regarding surrogate pregnancy are now much clear and explanatory to avoid such complications.
b) There were few cases in the past when unexpected death of one or both intended parents occurred during the surrogate pregnancy. Also there were some cases when divorce happened between the intended parents during surrogate pregnancy and later there was nobody ready to accept the surrogate child. This situation resulted in the unpleasant scenario of handing over the baby to orphan homes. Indian government has issued guidelines regarding all aspects of surrogacy and now the chances of such cases are very less. IFC takes care by consulting legal experts before going for surrogate pregnancy and take all the required help from them.
There had been a great criticism to surrogacy in the past and truly there were cases happening to support this fact. However, government, social reformers, media and surrogacy clinics have taken joint efforts to correct the situation and now it is a much clean and clear process that helps to bring the happiness of parenthood to a childless couple. Foreign and Indian couples find it as a great way to solve the problem of being childless for the entire life. With the ethical and legal practice of more and more clinics like International Fertility Centre the situation would improve further. India is going to emerge as the place for surrogacy, a win-win situation for intended couples and surrogate mother!