The Indian government, in the wake of several fertility and surrogacy scandals, wants to begin regulating the arrangements between fertility clinics, families who wish to conceive a child, and the women who carry those children.
India is widely considered the world capital of international surrogacy, the go-to place for would-be American and European moms who cannot carry a fetus to term. Their motive for choosing an Indian surrogate is usually money: hiring a surrogate in India generally costs between $20,000-$25,000, a fraction of what it would cost in the United States. However, as surrogacy arrangements are made privately through the countries IVF clinics, the payment and treatment the gestational mothers receive varies widely.
As a result, Indian government officials are drafting legislation that would ban IVF clinics from brokering the surrogacy transactions, instead setting up a quasi-official body known as an “ART bank” that would do the matchmaking instead. The law would also, in an effort to protect maternal health, set a limit of five pregnancies per surrogate and ban women over 35 from carrying the children of other women altogether. There is also a provision stating that the adoptive parents’ countries guarantee citizenship for the child, an issue that has been a problem for some German couples, because surrogacy is illegal in their country.
What the new laws would not do, alas, is take away the desperate economic circumstances that lead many Indian women to agree to become surrogates for foreign couples in the first place. As one Indian woman explained in The Wall Street Journal, carrying the child of an American family for nine months was a much better option than her only other money-making opportunity: selling a kidney.
Photo: Steve Evans