‘Abandoned’ mother staged surrogacy drama

Woman, husband booked; role of agents, doctors suspected

A woman, who claimed to be a surrogate and alleged that she was abandoned by the couple that had commissioned the surrogacy, has turned out to be the biological mother of the child.

The woman, 21-year-old Venkatamma, gave birth at Petlaburj government hospital to a baby-girl on July 20. The hospital staff were told by her husband, Lakshman, that his wife was a surrogate for another couple. According to hospital staff, the woman’s medical documents also suggested surrogacy but did not clearly mention where the embryo was ‘implanted’. The woman and her husband, a mason from Mahabubnagar, alleged that the commissioning couple had abandoned her because they had discovered that the foetus was female. After the woman’s plight became public, the police began investigation, suspecting pre-natal sex determination, an offence in India.

During the investigation, which process also involved the Hyderabad district’s health administration, the authorities were not able to verify the woman’s claims. In fact, at one of the hospitals where the woman claimed to have got the embryo implanted, the health authorities found that the institution does not have requisite facilities for fertility procedures. Nevertheless, the woman and her husband maintained that she was abandoned though they agreed to take responsibility of the newborn, a baby girl. It was not until earlier this month, when the woman made a startling allegation, that the needle of suspicious turned towards them – that her husband was the child’s father.

“A DNA test has revealed that the woman and her husband, who she claimed was estranged from her for about a year before birth, are biological parents of the newborn,” an official told The Hindu.

What was even more startling to the police and the health administration is the manner in which the woman attempted to defraud the commissioning couple by staging surrogacy.

“After the woman conceived naturally, she wanted to abort the child. However, she got in touch with an agent who promised her money if she was willing to give up the child and pretend to be a surrogate,” a health official said, adding that the agent liaised with some doctors. The woman’s husband had earlier claimed that his wife was offered ₹6 lakh by the commissioning couple for being a surrogate.

The official further explains, “It appears the doctor found a gullible couple and staged the surrogacy, by acting to treat the woman. The couple began paying for the woman’s expenses and took care of her for a few months. They abandoned her after they became suspicious about the child’s origin.”

The police have booked the woman and her husband on the charge of cheating, and have now launched a detailed investigation that may see the role of many agents and doctors.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 7:11:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/abandoned-mother-staged-surrogacy-drama/article19526072.ece

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