Parental Surrogacy Goes to India

Did you happen to catch PBS’ report on a growing way to go to all lengths to have a baby? Indian surrogacy. Check out how it works, and the pros and cons…

Many couples who desperately want a baby and face the issue of the woman not being able to carry the child have had parental surrogacy in this country as an option. However, it does not come without costs and risks. It costs thousands of dollars, and many states differ on their laws on the legality of surrogate parenting.

However, according to a recent report by the PBS Newshour, there is a lower cost, legally easier option: couples can hire a surrogate from India. The surrogacy business has become a half-billion dollar industry in India.

The Akanksha Clinic in Mumbai is one place they can go. It has successfully delivered surrogate children for parents from all over the world since 2004. However, not everyone agrees it is the best idea for couples needing surrogate mothers. Here are some pros and cons:

Pros

-It has a much lower cost: couples pay about $10,000-15,000 (sometimes less) instead of the equivalent of at least double that in many countries.

-That amount of money is a fortune to an Indian woman; it is often enough to ensure her existing children can go to school and more.

-Unlike some contracts, such as in the U.S. that have been challenged by surrogate mothers seeking custody of the child they carried, purportedly in India it is clear that the surrogate mother cannot keep the child. And even when the contract is not clear, the Indian women are clear that they do not want to keep another child. They want the couple’s money—that’s it.

Cons

-According to Dr. Arthur Caplan, Director of University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics, in India the contracts are “usually written, to be blunt, to protect the wealthy people who are commissioning the baby, so that if the woman suffers an injury, if the woman has a health problem due to childbirth, if there’s a long-term chronic condition, then what?”

-He also says that often to enhance the chances of pregnancy, too many embryos can be implanted into the surrogate mother. Why? Because the wealthy couple from another country does not want to have to come back. They want to maximize the chances of pregnancy, even if it “might compromise the interests of the babies.”

-Caplan is also concerned about where the evolution of surrogacy might take us. It could very well go beyond helping infertile couples, to being a way for mothers who could carry a child to opt not to, so they could have a child without having to go through the pregnancy process (this is already happening). As genetic knowledge advances, he is also concerned that surrogacy could be involved in fertile couples wanting to make babies with “traits and properties” that they want and don’t want—in other words, to make what they think is the perfect child.

On one hand, it seems, a win-win-win for all parties involved if it works. But what are the bioethics—in other words, how far should surrogacy be allowed to go?

6 thoughts on “Parental Surrogacy Goes to India

  1. “usually written, to be blunt, to protect the wealthy people who are commissioning the baby, so that if the woman suffers an injury, if the woman has a health problem due to childbirth, if there’s a long-term chronic condition, then what?”

    This is by far my biggest issue with it. Pregnancy and childbirth can still injure or kill women. It’s rare (especially when one has adequate health care) but it does happen.

    At the very least women or their surviving relatives should be legally entitled to _something_ if the surrogate has serious complications or dies. I just don’t understand how it is morally ok to risk someone else’s life like this.

  2. While reading about genetics in my Psychology textbook, I read that the genetic basis for other traits is being researched as well. What caught my attention is one of these traits that I don’t possess: extroversion.
    If genetic researchers can find the genes that influence extroversion/introversion, could you imagine any set of parents – especially in Western countries, where extroversion and aggression is prized – that would want to have an introverted child?
    It’s the possibility of “designer babies” that worries me…could you imagine the lack of diversity that would result from this becoming commonplace? Scary.

    1. In addition to personality characteristics, almost scarier are the physical aspects to make the most “beautiful” child…hope we don’t live to see that day~

  3. This is disgusting to think about, especially when so many women in India face adversities unimaginable to most Americans, such as being forced into prostitution. Of course this would seem to be an acceptable “business deal” from their unfortunate point of view. I would bet most people who use the clinics in India are low on empathy and low on the social awareness scale. In other words they’re in utter denial that the women involved often have little choice. Capitalist, disgusting westerners always take the stance that “people use their own free will.”

    What’s the difference between this and “prostitution” by the way?

  4. ditto to Sami on the utterly disgusted. 7+ billion and counting and this is the mill we churn. That anything is possible does not mean that it should be proliferated as normal. And, in this case, the economic disparity that exists that is used to justify the procedure as “good” for the destitute is tantamount to saying that anything that pays is good. So, ditto again to Sami and the question of whether this economic extortion is any different than prostitution.

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