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Assisted Reproduction

India’s New Surrogacy Guidelines Harshly Criticized

As many gay couples’ hopes of becoming parents through surrogacy in India have been dashed due to new Ministry guidelines, local industry professionals are now speaking out:

Commercial surrogacy is a booming industry in India, and in recent years the ranks of childless foreign couples looking for a low-cost, legally simple route to parenthood have been joined by gay couples and singles. The measures mark the first step to the regulation of “surrogacy tourism” in India.

The rules say foreign couples seeking to enter into a surrogacy arrangement in India must be a “man and woman (who) are duly married and the marriage should be sustained at least two years”. The rule changes, posted on the Indian home ministry’s website, were denounced by fertility clinics and gay rights activists as “discriminatory”.

“Parenting is everybody’s right and now we’re withdrawing that right,” said Dr Rita Bakshi, who heads the International Fertility Centre in New Delhi. “These rules are definitely not welcome, definitely restrictive and very discriminatory,” she told AFP. “This is a huge heartbreak for homosexual couples and singles,” commented fertility doctor Anoop Gupta.

Gay rights campaigners also denounced the changes to the rules on surrogacy, which was legalised in 2002. “It’s totally unfair – not only for gay people but for people who are not married who may have been living together for years, and for singles,” Mumbai gay rights advocate Nitin Karani told AFP.

India is a popular destination for gay couples seeking children even though it remains a largely conservative country and only decriminalised consensual sex between homosexuals in 2011. The home ministry would not comment on the changes which stipulate that would-be parents provide proof that their home country will give citizenship to any baby born of a surrogate mother.

There have been several publicised cases of babies born through cross-border surrogacy in recent years who have been trapped in citizenship limbo because their parents’ countries refused them passports. Surrogacy is banned in some European countries and is subject to strict regulation in the United States. The new India rules, which also state applicants must apply for a medical instead of a tourist visa, come as legislation to regulate the industry has yet to be passed by parliament. The bill says only women aged between 21 and 35 can act as surrogates but sets no minimum payment for the mother.

Critics have said a lack of legislation governing surrogacy encourages “rent-a-womb” exploitation of young, poor Indian women. While the government has been pushing the country as a medical tourism destination, the issue of wealthy foreigners paying poor Indians to have babies has raised ethical concerns in many Indian minds. Clinic owners deny ill-treatment of mothers, saying it is in their interest to treat the women well in order for them to have healthy babies.

The cost of surrogacy is about $18,000 to $30,000 in India, said Bakshi, of which around $8,000 goes to the surrogate mother. The figure is roughly a third of the US price. Hari Ramasubramanian, founding partner of Indian Surrogacy Law, said the new measures were introduced without “proper consultation” and needed to be challenged in the courts. “A lot of people who will be affected had seen India as a wonderful option for getting into parenthood and now this option is closed. It’s quite sad,” he said.


One comment for “India’s New Surrogacy Guidelines Harshly Criticized”

  • Sarah’s Daddy

    I am commenting on this a bit late, but, I cannot stress enough – if you are going to India for surrogacy, PLEASE research the clinic, and the providers individually. We learned, after translated copy of our “contract” was finally provided, our surrogate was given $1,800.00. NOT $7,000.00 as we had been lead to believe. Also, the “maternity home” we paid – oh, I should mention, this was our experience “Dr.” Anoop Gupta, Delhi IVF, located in Conaught Place, in New Delhi. Using the driver HE provided us with when he had lied to us, telling us our surrogate had a “Placental Abruption” which looking at our baby, something was off. After being told that she was born vaginally, then via c-s, I noted the roundness of her head, so, she was not a vaginal birth… Then I thought, “I’ll check on my “wife,” and I walked up to the entrance kiosk at Max Super Specialty Hospital – Patparganj (where the kept our daughter in a linen closet “private room.” And I asked, what room is she in, and in a sly manner, made some light conversation about the birth, and how bad I felt for not being with her when she came in… Then dropped “I’m just glad she was able to get surgery, she was so tired, our baby looks good… I guess she was right, planning the birth was a good idea, so I could be here and then I go and miss it!” Then, confirmed, “Sir, not to worry she came in at the scheduled time, and be sure she in good spirits!” (responding, what an odd time, but I guess its more convenient for a doctor, they do not need to worry about getting a call, so and so is in labor. And, it was smart thinking, deliver the baby on Tuesday, late afternoon, and then she will be discharged by the weekend, taking some pressure off his plate.” “Your very right.” Yeah, so lets just say, HiPPA does not exist in India. Nor does the truth, like, when their was clear abdominal issues, and on a scan, it was noted she had a “spot”, that the MD brushed off, but, going back to how the thought process is; I AM A NICU NURSE, AND A MAN” I could not say definitively, but lets just say, exploratory surgery would have been performed her in the US. No, it was better to wait and see, 5 days later, as I walked in her closet, she had NO color, clammy skin, and AGAIN her IV was beeping (clearly she must have been fooling with it as the nurse used her fingers to make the “no-no” sign as if my tiny, saran wrapped baby was messing with her central line!” So using the driver Gupta provided, and with the help of the nicest dentist who spoke perfect English, my driver brought me to my surrogates home, (well, “Maternity” house. Oh, it was preciousness… I especially loved the fact that she had (to what I could see) as many as 11 children, two pregnant as well. I figured since they all had on the same t-shirt, and none owned shoes, this might be a clue…. No, even better, was the blue tarp roof, lack of a door….. I was standing in a “slum.”
    The desire to be a parent is not one that goes away. At least not in our house. So, after some extensive research, today I came across Dr Rita Bakshi, who, after research, searching for the good, bad, ugly and then some…. I think that she is THE ONLY physician practicing with ethics, compassion and the actual desire to help not being lead by money, but by a passion for her profession. She has my seal of approval.
    OH, and, be carful, you don’t want to ever make someone irritated with too many questions, because they might just keep your money ($21,000) and never speak to you again…. That happen to another family I know, OH, sorry, that was us…. Dr. Shiva Shivani, Surrogacy Centre India. Now in Nepal, if you are thinking about going to her, let me leave you with this thought… Remember the couple, who, tried to exit and learned NEITHER where the parents, from New Jersey… Yea, well, that was her mistake. How do I know, well, I clearly made a “boo-boo” with her ego when I asked that a label be placed on my DNA, I felt uncomfortable with the explanation I was given “we know whose sample belongs” REALLY, because their was 6-7 men “expressing” samples, so, this is quite remarkable….

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