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Surrogate mothers appeal to ICMR, seek ‘dignity’

Surprising policy makers and women’s rights activist, surrogate mothers have appealed to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) asking them to allow “foreign surrogacy and respecting the right to life and dignity of surrogate mothers”.

Contrary to the change proposed by the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 72 surrogate mothers signed a letter that was sent to the ICMR, requesting the council to not term surrogacy a bad practice.

The proposed change bars single persons and foreign nationals from becoming parents through Indian surrogate mothers. It has been proposed that the facility be offered only to infertile Indian married couples. Non-resident Indians (NRIs), persons of Indian origin (PIOs) and overseas citizens of India (OCIs) would be eligible, but foreigners — unless they are married to Indian citizens — will not.

“The purpose is to prevent exploitation of Indian women who may be tempted to take the risk of surrogacy in the face of financial hardships,” said a senior health official.

Exploitation, however, is the last thought on Manu’s mind, who is currently undergoing treatment to become a surrogate mother.

A housemaid working in New Delhi and earning Rs. 6,000 a month, Manu is originally from West Bengal. Her salary supports her two children, who are currently out of school, and the treatment of an unemployed, handicapped husband. “When the fight is to stay alive, where does exploitation come into the picture?” she asks.

“I am becoming a surrogate mother to ensure that my children have a better chance at leading a decent life and to get my husband treatment. Surrogacy is a good deed that pays well,” she says. She added that her health and food were also taken care of in the process.

Having ‘benefitted’ from being a surrogate mother, Anu, whose husband works in a private firm, says that she got into the ‘deal’ to ensure that her two children were taken care of.

“This money has been put away for their education and our old age. The government runs many schemes and services, which either benefit the rich or those below poverty line. What about people like us who are constantly living under the danger of falling into the economically weaker section if we fall ill or lose our jobs?”

Ranju Pradhan, who was among the signatories to submit the petition to ICMR, advocates for laws that safeguard the rights of the surrogate mother and the child that is born.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 8:14:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/surrogate-mothers-appeal-to-icmr-seek-dignity/article7848219.ece

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