Even surrogate mothers have rights

Surbhi Gupta/ OneWorld South Asia

Over the past few years, India has seen an explosion of fertility services that promise a cure for increasing infertility today. Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) that assist in conception have proliferated unchecked into a veritable ‘fertility industry’ and has become an integral part of the country’s expanding medical market and medical tourism industry. While official statistics on the number of surrogacies being arranged in India are not available, anecdotal evidence suggests a sharp increase. Recent reports put the commercial surrogacy market in India at Rs 2,000 crore a year.

India has become the global capital of surrogacy due to a combination of factors like women willing to be surrogates, lack of regulation, comparatively low international costs. In this booming industry, people have overlooked the health concerns of surrogate mothers besides a variety of other ethical issues even as the commissioning parents as well as the child have been granted various rights.

Deepa, a health rights activist from SAMA pointed out that besides psychological concerns, there are genetic issues for surrogate mothers. These women are injected with hormones that are required during pregnancy as well as they are subjected to injections to prevent breast milk. She added that the rights of surrogate mothers have been overlooked including health complications arising out of surrogacy.

The workshop screened a documentary that interview a number of surrogate mothers from various parts of the country. It looked at the emotional, ethical as well as the commercial aspects of this industry from a surrogate mother’s perspective.