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Regulate surrogacy, say activists

Social activists are batting for a ban on commercial surrogacy and have demanded that the practice be regulated like organ donation. Citing the findings of a report on surrogacy in Mumbai, Delhi and Gujarat, they said that in the absence of regulation, surrogacy has transformed into an unfettered, multi-million dollar industry.

A report titled “ Surrogacy Motherhood: Ethical or Commercial?” compiled by the Centre for Social Research, with the support of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, illustrates that surrogacy has become a “commercial industry” where the rights of surrogate mothers, who are compelled by economic reasons, are violated.

“We found a woman who has been used a surrogate five times; she has four children of her own, so, in all, she underwent child birth nine times. Medical practitioners put the number of safe deliveries at three. Surrogacy has turned women into breeders,” said CSR director Ranjana Kumari.

According to Ms. Kumari, commercial surrogacy has also aggravated the problems of biased sex selection, skewed sex ratio and trafficking of women. “In Surat, we came across a surrogate from Ranchi. There is no telling how many women are being used for lending their wombs through coercion. Just as there is regulation on organ donation, there has to be a similar ban on commercial surrogacy,” she said.

The report flags several aspects of surrogacy that are flouted in India; for instance, the contracts between the surrogates and the commissioning parents are not always legally framed and the provisions for remuneration are not adhered to.

According to the report, 82 per cent of the respondents [surrogates] in Delhi and 69 per cent in Mumbai were married, 12 per cent respondents in each city were divorced. In Mumbai, 14 per cent of the respondents were abandoned and six per cent were separated. “During field investigation, it was found that the fear of abandonment among married surrogate mothers also acts as a driving force to enter into surrogacy arrangements as their husbands consider it an easy way to earn quick money beyond their earning capability either to set up a business, repay a loan or simply enjoy life at the cost of health,” the report says.

“About 27.85 per cent of the respondents in Delhi and 46.91 percent in Mumbai stated that it is poverty that had driven them to take the decision to enter into a surrogacy arrangement. However, 15.82 per cent of the surrogate mothers in Delhi, and 23.46 per cent of them in Mumbai, stated that education of their children had been another driving factor to opt for becoming a surrogate mother. 26.58 per cent of the respondents in Delhi and 17.28 in Mumbai had been approached by the agencies or clinics to become surrogate mothers. To sum up, poverty, approach by agents, unemployment and education of children stand out to be major compelling factors for surrogate mothers to enter into surrogacy arrangements,” the report states.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2020 9:39:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/regulate-surrogacy-say-activists/article6436134.ece

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