The concept and practice of surrogate motherhood came in to being for the sake of those desperate couples who are medically written off as incapable of conceiving a child and during the initial period it was a complex and risky method. As Medical science progressed the procedure, I V F procedure or in-Vitro Fertilisation method, became routine and less risky.
The Medical process begins with stimulating the Genetic mother by various drugs to generate ova in the ovaries and then the ovum is took out and fertilized with the Spermatozoa of her husband outside the body of Genetic mother. The fertilized embryo is placed in the womb of surrogate mother where it grows naturally. There is also another method in which the most viable spermatozoon is selected and injected in to the ovum directly for conception and then placed in the womb of surrogate mother. Both methods require close medical supervision and utmost care as the work lies within domain of Mother Nature. The handling of Ovum, Spermatozoa and embryo requires special care and attention since even a minute mistake can turn catastrophic to the baby.
The clients for surrogate mothers are mostly from Britain. A couple spends between 25000 to 40000 Pounds for the entire process. The fees are different in various clinics and there are umpteen numbers of them spread across India, housed inconspicuously in the suburbs of cities. Although not illegal in India, the surrogate business is handled in secrecy by all clinics.
A surrogate mother or what the Press blasphemously calls, ‘Baby Factory’, gets about 6000 pounds as fees in addition to allowances for nutritional food, clothes etc. I will say that it is far less a payment for the emotional and physical trauma she undergoes for almost a year. Surrogate or not the Baby (in the womb) and the mother develops a special link and kinship during the months of pregnancy and how can one put a price on the trauma of the mother on the loss of the baby at the end of the day ? In certain cases the surrogates even face rejection from husband and family after the event.
Most of the surrogates are economically marginalised lot. They are led to do the 'work' out of their biting poverty. In certain cases the husbands themselves urge them to surrogate in order to earn money. The clinics view them just as machines to conceive children. When Premila, a surrogate mother, died when she was eight months in to pregnancy, she was immediately operated upon to retrieve the baby and the baby was then placed in the incubator. There are hundreds or thousands of women living perilously as surrogate mothers. The clinics which search and find women who are willing and suitable for the ‘job’ always exploit them.
Since there are no legal restrictions for surrogacy in India clients are plenty. The cost is also cheaper than anywhere in the world. The other details of the demand and supply in that world are not available as the operations are done daily in hundreds of clinics and there are no records of them. The Press say that it is a multi Billion Dollar business in India.
Many countries allow only altruistic surrogacy, which means free surrogacy except for the expenses of medicine, food etc and some countries do not allow any kind of surrogacy like France. In India no restrictions have been imposed yet
The Catholic Church opposes the surrogacy on ethical grounds. On the ethical side it is a wild intervention in to the natural process and as such many see it as a sin, as the other side of abortion practice.
On the Indian scene of surrogate motherhood the word coined by the Press and internet is ‘Indian Baby factory’. I wonder why no women’s group is protesting against this blasphemy on womanhood.
Images from Google