City emerging as a surrogacy hub

City emerging as a surrogacy hub

Over the years, women’s health has become an issue of prime importance and concern, especially maternal health. Topping the concern is the issue of surrogacy and exploitation of women, especially from the poor sections, who compelled by poverty are renting their wombs for money, unmindful of the risks involved.

This is an alarming situation compounded further by the fact that there is no proper regulatory mechanism to ensure their rights and safety.

In the absence of stringent rules and regulations, especially at a time when India is fast emerging as the hub of medical tourism, the ‘surrogacy industry’ is flourishing unchecked.

Anindita, a social worker with Sama, Resource Group for Women and Health says, “While the surrogacy industry has continued to proliferate, the Indian state has failed to regulate and monitor this growing industry. The proposed (Draft) Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill and Rules-2010 by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is a much needed step, albeit its limitations.”

Sama is a Delhi-based women's resource group working towards building women’s competencies to identify and address linkages between women’s health and livelihoods, food, violence and other larger issues that affect their lives.

With regards to surrogacy Sama has engaged closely with the ICMR to help understand the importance of the surrogate mother within the guidelines seeking to regulate the ARTs industry.

“Most of our analysis of the Bill and policy recommendations have been discussed in the public domain and have been published in various academic and non-academic publications,” says Anindita.

According to her, the Draft Bill in its current form does not make any provision for the regulation of other players like the medical tourism agencies, surrogacy agencies, surrogacy law firms etc. While it stipulates that the sourcing of surrogate is only through ART Bank, the role and responsibilities of these players also needs to be systematically
regulated, and stringent provisions incorporated in the Draft Bill towards this,
she adds.

Dr Archana Dhawan Bajaj, gynaecologist and obstetrician, The Nurture IVF Centre, informs that besides Indian couples, the centre receives a large number of requests from childless couples from countries like USA, UK, Australia, Africa, Europe, South East Asia, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Tajikistan.

“Around 1000 babies are born every year only in Delhi through commercial surrogacy and this number is rapidly increasing. Medical facilities in the city have matured and clinics that specialise in surrogacy, offer comprehensive services that include IVF-egg transfer facilities, help identify surrogates, assist in the legal/contractual process and much more,” says Bajaj.

“Clinics in India are well equipped with world class technologies in comparison to any other developing country. We are offering an advanced and best service at a very competitive price. Hence, Delhi is emerging as a surrogacy hub,” she hints.
She agrees that in the absence of a surrogacy law, ‘Rent a Womb’ is still a matter of major debate.

“I believe the need of the hour is to formulate a regulation for surrogacy to prevent the malpractices affecting surrogates and recipients. Presently, the ICMR Guidelines sets out a code of ethical standards that are observed by upright practitioners,” says Bajaj.

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