Surrogacy In India

Surrogacy is a hot topic in the Indian media right now - and newspapers, magazines and TVs are full of talk-shows and reports as to how India is poised to become the next surrogacy outsourcing capital of the world.

Not only does India have a number of successful IVF clinics; there are a lot of women who are willing to be surrogates , so that surrogacy costs a fraction of what it would in the West. While a surrogacy treatment cycle would be about US $ 50000 in the US, it is about one half to one fifth the price in India - a bargain by any standards ! And in this day and age of globalisation and market-driven economies, there is considerable demand for this service !

What is surrogacy?

The word surrogate means substitute, and a surrogate mother is someone who gestates (conceives and carries within the uterus) and then gives birth to a child for another person, with the full intention of handing the child over to that person after the birth.

In India, the surrogate mother must not have any genetic link to the child she carries for the commissioning ( intended) parent or parents. This is called gestational surrogacy. Therefore, her egg may not be used in the surrogacy arrangement. ( This is called traditional surrogacy, and is illegal). The egg and sperm used to form the embryo for transfer to the womb of the surrogate mother must be provided by the commissioning parent or parents (the person or people for whom the surrogate is becoming pregnant) or a donor.

In some cases, a donor egg may be used in conjunction with the commissioning father's sperm or donor sperm may be used in conjunction with the commissioning mother's egg to form an embryo for transfer to the surrogate's womb.

Surrogacy and ART

Surrogacy can be seen as an alternative form of ART that can assist a person or couple to have a child. There are a number of situations where a surrogacy arrangement may be considered, for example:

  • A woman is unable to become pregnant as she has had a hysterectomy or is missing part of her uterus, uterine lining, ovaries or other parts of the genital tract.
  • A woman may have a health condition which makes pregnancy dangerous or she may not be able to carry a baby to term.
  • A couple in a male same-sex relationship may wish to have a child using their sperm.
  • A man may wish to have a child but have no partner.
  • A woman, who has embryos in storage with her male partner, dies and the male wishes to use the embryos to have a child.

The argument for surrogacy

There continues to be much controversy and debate surrounding surrogacy. The argument in favour of surrogacy is based on the personal autonomy of the person or couple commissioning a surrogate mother. The view is that people should be free to make arrangements so long as those arrangements do not bring harm to others. Some claim that the surrogate child and mother can be adequately protected if strict regulations and controls are established and enforced.

The argument against surrogacy

Arguments against surrogacy are mainly based on two issues: the best interests of the child and the rights and feelings of the surrogate mother. The legal, moral and ethical questions raised are numerous and include:

  • What happens if the surrogate mother or commissioning person or couple change their mind?
  • What happens in the case of miscarriage or multiple births?
  • What happens if the child has serious disabilities?
  • What are the rights of the child?
  • Should payment be involved?

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