The Dark Underbelly Of The Surrogacy Industry In India By Andrew Vorzimer
The poor surrogate mothers in Gujarat, who rent their wombs to augment the family income, have been confronted with the horrors of a pitiable payment and broken homes. The Center for Social Research, an NGO, revealed after talking to nearly 100 surrogate mothers and 50 commissioning parents in Anand, Surat and Jamnagar in Gujarat, that surrogacy has not gone down well with their husbands and children.
“We found some disturbing trends. For instance, though the husbands do not mind their wives to act as surrogate mothers, the spouse and her children distance themselves from her after she returns home following the birth of the baby,” CSR director Dr Ranjana Kumari said. In Anand, around 52 per cent of the surrogate mothers said they were abandoned by their husbands and that most of them had to fend for themselves and their children.
Around 14 per cent women in Surat and 20 per cent in Jamnagar said their relationship with their husbands soured. Many surrogate mothers – 100 per cent in Jamnagar, 83 per cent in Surat and 40 per cent in Anand – revealed that they lost contact with friends and members of the family after opting for surrogacy.
Surrogacy had a bearing on family equations. Close to 77 per cent women in Anand, 86 per cent in Surat and 100 per cent in Jamnagar said it affected the way their households were run.
For surrogate mothers, surrogacy has not gone down well with their husbands and children. Surrogate mothers said they suffered on account of the secrecy involved in the entire process. Around 82 per cent of them in Anand, 89 per cent in Surat and all in Jamnagar said the secrecy involved in the entire process of surrogacy made them vulnerable to suspicions.
To make matter worse, the amount of money given to the surrogate mothers was never fixed and was decided arbitrarily by the clinic or the doctor, the study found. These mothers were often left with just a pittance. Of the Rs 12 to Rs 15 lakh for a surrogacy, the mothers get just about one or two per cent of the entire amount – that is not more than Rs 12,000 or Rs 15,000, the report said.
“Apart from being denied the promised amount, they are often paid in installments. Since most of them are illiterate, they lose count after a few installments,” Kumari said. In 97 per cent cases in Surat and 100 per cent in Jamnagar, most of the surrogate mothers were approached or targeted by agents or touts who make a killing through commissions.
It was also revealed that relationship between the surrogate mother and the commissioning parents remained harmonious in the beginning, but turned unpleasant towards the advanced stages of pregnancy because of hyperanticipation, monetary disagreements and other pretentious issues.
India has been a popular destination for surrogacy because of cheap medical facilities, advanced reproductive technological know-how and a hard-up population willing to make an extra buck to support their families.
The horrors were not restricted to poor payment. “It was found that surrogate mothers were made to undergo in-vitro fertilisation sessions 20-25 times for a successful impregnation. Current guidelines strictly prohibit this,” Kumari said.
Apart from NRIs, couples from the US, Russia, the UK, Sweden, Israel and Australia come to India for the cheap surrogacy offered.
If this report is accurate, India needs to take a fresh look at their surrogacy industry. Between the exploitation of these women to the inconceivable stigmatization and ostracization, significant and immediate reform is necessary. I still cannot get my head around the notion that some of these surrogates had to undergo 20-25 IVF procedures before achieving a successful pregnancy. That simply defies reason and should trigger a probe into the medical practices as well being employed by these clinics. For anyone considering surrogacy in India, this sobering article should give you pause.