Friday, 21 September 2012

India emerging the surrogacy capital of the world: Affordable costs, high success rate, loopholes in law attract infertile couples to India

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: “Signed for surrogacy five times”, says a young
woman from the city in her post on a website offering to rent her womb
for the sixth time to infertile couples. Another young woman describes
in detail her physical and health traits while volunteering to bear
someone’s child for the fourth time.

A number of medical tourism firms in the USA, Europe and Australia
promote India as the best and economical destination for surrogacy. A
casual browse of the internet reveals a list of dozens of volunteer
women in Hyderabad ready to become surrogate mothers.

No wonder then, Hyderabad is fast turning into a global hub of
surrogate pregnancies. Infertile couples from at least three dozen
countries including the USA, the UK and Australia have engaged
surrogate mothers in the city. Fertility experts point out that high
success rate coupled with affordable costs and easy legal
documentation has made India the favourite destination for infertile
couples from foreign countries to rent wombs and take babies back
home. Surrogacy comes at costs 15 to 20 times less in India than in
developed nations.

While countries like the USA, UK and Australia have stringent legal
norms that make it difficult or impossible to hire surrogate mothers,
India does not have clear-cut laws on womb rentals. The guidelines of
the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) allows voluntary
surrogacy with the condition that hospitals should not hire
prospective surrogate mothers or advertise about surrogacy. However,
many hospitals follow these rules more in breach. A woman should not
volunteer for surrogacy more than three times. But cases of multiple
surrogate pregnancies are quite common.

According to sources, about 500 foreign couples engage surrogate
mothers every year in Hyderabad alone. The success rate (delivery of
live babies) in the city is between 25 and 30 per cent, which means
about 125 babies are delivered. The surrogacy market in the country is
now pegged at Rs 14,000 crore including the costs paid to surrogate
mothers.

Senior fertility expert Dr Roya Rozati told this correspondent that
each surrogate mother in Hyderabad and other cities in the country
charges between Rs 4.5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh. “For infertile couples in
developed countries, this amount is highly affordable. Not many women
in the West come forward to bear someone else’s child. Moreover, the
surrogacy costs including medical expenses in developed countries are
simple prohibitive and beyond the reach of many,” she pointed out.

Another reason why India has been attracting infertile couples for
surrogacy cases here is Indian laws recognise surrogacy, which means a
surrogate mother is not a legal mother of the child, Dr Roya Rozati
said. The couple, which hires the surrogate mothers, gets the legal
parents’ rights. But in the many countries, the surrogate mother is
the legal mother, which makes matters worse for the intending parents.

Intending surrogate mothers undergo a plethora of medical tests and
hormonal injections, which may affect their health.

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