Another disconcerting incident out of India:
The city police are investigating a complaint filed by an infertility centre against a surrogate mother, who allegedly breached her agreement with the hospital when she was three months pregnant and demanded a hefty compensation of Rs 15 lakh later.
However, surrogate mother Rajeswary (30), who gave birth to a baby boy on Sunday, told TOI that she had never sought any extra payment from the hospital and wished to hand over the two-day-old baby to its real parents. Rajeswary, of Kumaran Thirunagar in Dindigul, said she was not in a financial condition to support the newborn after losing four fingers in an accident. Also, her husband Sivakumar was bedridden due to ill-health.
In his complaint at the Race Course police station here, K M Balakrishnan, manager of Iswarya Women’s Hospital and Fertility Centre at Avarampalayam, said Rajeswary had entered into an agreement with the hospital in January to become a surrogate mother for a fee of Rs 1 lakh. According to the agreement, she was to stay in the hospital till delivery, during which all her expenses would be taken care of.
Also, Rajeswary was prevented from accessing any information regarding the childless couple for whom she was carrying the child. But in the last week of march, when she was three months pregnant, Rajeswary left the hospital, Balakrishnan alleged in his complaint.
Repeated attempts to contact her and her husband failed. Balakrishnan claimed Rajeswary contacted the hospital on Monday, saying she had given birth to a baby boy on Sunday and would hand him over to the hospital only if she was paid Rs 15 lakh.
When TOI contacted Rajeswary over phone, she said she had agreed to become a surrogate mother to get money to treat her ailing husband. According to her, the hospital allowed her to become a surrogate after forcing her to sign blank paper sheets. There was no written agreement or contract, she claimed.
As she did not have children, the hospital agreed to allow Sivakumar to stay with her till the delivery. However, she alleged, the hospital threw him out after three months. She was then forced to leave the hospital to look after her husband. After she gave birth on Sunday, she contacted the hospital to hand over the baby to the childless couple, she claimed.
Advocate M V Vijayaraghavan claimed it was the hospital which had denied the basic human rights of the poor surrogate mother. “She became a surrogate only to support her ailing husband. The hospital insisted that she stay there for 10 months without meeting her husband. If the hospital is moving ahead with the complaint, we will fight it legally,” he said.
However, hospital assistant manager Sreemathi said Rajeswary’s husband had also signed an agreement agreeing to all terms and conditions. “There was no cheating on the part of the hospital,” she said. The hospital’s chief physician Chandralekha was not available for comment.
However, surrogate mother Rajeswary (30), who gave birth to a baby boy on Sunday, told TOI that she had never sought any extra payment from the hospital and wished to hand over the two-day-old baby to its real parents.
I have previously shared my concerns about surrogacy in India. As echoed in previous posts, this case highlights the differences between surrogacy in American and abroad. First of all, the surrogate in this case never had a child of her own — a factor that would disqualify her from consideration in every legitimate surrogacy program in the United States. Secondly, I continue to be troubled by the compulsory detention of these surrogates. The hardship that is placed on these women to spend 40 weeks confined to a “hospital” until their baby is born, seems to me to be unduly oppressive and creates an environment where situations like this can occur. So regardless of the validity of the accusations in this particular case, there are some very significant systemic problems that should give anyone pause before considering a surrogacy arrangement in India.