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Outsourcing surrogacy

Anand, in the last two years has seen as many as 14 cases of commercial in-vitro fertilization surrogacy, according to media reports.

Anand, in the last two years has seen as many as 14 cases of commercial in-vitro fertilization surrogacy, according to media reports.  

India is a patriarchal society with a premium placed on begetting sons. The Indian society is not ready to accept a couple without issues as it is looked down upon. It strains relations and kinship; usually, given the cultural mores prevalent in the country, the wife is at the receiving end — taunts are reserved for her.

Impact on society

The incapacity to bear a child may lie either with the husband or the wife. The matter is not so simple when considering the social impact on society, it has legal dimensions, and ethical and moral reverberations that would impinge on the fundamental rights of individuals. Durga was the first child born to Indian parents in Kolkota through IVF in 1978, the second in the world since then the field has grown immensely. Basically, surrogacy is the process of carrying and delivering of the child of another. Technically, it involves the surrogate mother being implanted with the fertilized egg from another woman or from her own egg.

Surrogacy is of two types, ‘gestational surrogacy’ and ‘traditional surrogacy’. In gestational surrogacy, the woman (the genetic mother) provides the egg, which is fertilized, and another woman (the surrogate mother) carries the foetus and gives birth to the child.

In traditional surrogacy, the woman provides her own egg, which is fertilized by artificial insemination, and carries the foetus and gives birth to a child for another person. Whatever the mode of surrogacy, the cost is about $ 25,000-30,000 in India, which is about 1/3rd the cost in the West.

The cost factor has made India a favourite destination for medical tourism, especially the quest for a child. The projected value in terms of market is about Rs 25,000 crore and, therefore, holds tremendous propensity for commercialisation and exploitation of the poor. The Baby Manji Yamada v. Union of India concerned production/custody of child Manji Yamada, given birth by a surrogate mother in Anand, Gujarat, under a surrogacy agreement with her entered into by Drs Yuki and Ikufumi Yamada of Japan. The sperm had come from Dr Ikufumi Yamada, but the egg was from a donor, not from Dr Yuki Yamada, the wife of Dr Ikufumi Yamada. There were matrimonial discords between the commissioning parents and the father was ultimately given the custody of the child.

Surrogacy as an option

However, considering the factors which make a married couple unable to bear a child and the social stigma that follows, surrogacy is an option. Anand in Gujarat is the centre of surrogacy in India. Wombs are on hire for a fee. Many would consider such an option immoral, though now the law seeks to make it legal. Morality and legality are two separate entities. The surrogate mother in India is not treated as the legal mother.

The Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill and Rules, 2008 proposes, among others, to give legitimacy to the child born out of such surrogacy even when the parents get separated or even if the parent is single. The Bill also seeks to ensure that the mother and the surrogate do not hold simultaneous transfer of embryos and that it does not permit the predetermination of the sex of the child.

Maybe, as things stand, India will become the hub for the entire world as an outsourcing centre and a child harvesting laboratory.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 7:46:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/Outsourcing-surrogacy/article16889820.ece

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