Debate rages around the rights and regrets of India’s surrogate moms

A doctor conducts an ultrasound on a 30-year-old Indian surrogate mother bearing twin babies, on October 31, 2011. (SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images)

While investigating the conditions for India’s surrogate mothers, NPR’s Julie McCarthy revealed some truly sad stories — of women carrying babies to expunge family debt and of disrespectful professionals, apparently exploiting the disadvantaged for financial gain.

No law currently governs the lucrative surrogacy industry in India, but that may change, with the government proposing restrictions on who can participate in the practice. Couples married fewer than five years, unmarried gay couples, gays, singles, and foreigners would all be banned from commissioning a surrogate under the new law. Some have questioned whether the ban, which seeks to protect the disadvantaged women who most often act as surrogates, will actually deprive them of economic opportunity.

McCarthy interviewed Isha, 30 years old and already a mother to two teenagers, who is carrying twins for another woman. She says she would not have acted as a surrogate if her husband had not suffered a debilitating and financially crushing accident while at work as a rickshaw driver.

Her doctor, Anoop Gupta, who runs one of New Delhi’s largest fertility clinics, says India’s poorest women are not being exploited, as they would get pregnant regardless because “they do not use contraception.”

“They are thoughtless people,” he said. “Now if they get an opportunity to help somebody who is childless, and they help themselves with the money they can never think of in their lifetime — nobody has been exploited.”

Manasi Mishra, a social researcher in New Delhi who has surveyed hundreds of surrogates, begs to differ, disclosing a range of terrible deceptions the women endure.

An Indian surrogate mother rests at a hostel for dozens of pregnant women. (SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images)

An Indian surrogate mother rests at a hostel for dozens of pregnant women. (SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images)

Read the full story at NPR.


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