India's surrogate mothers bear other people's babies to escape poverty
Author : Nepali Times
Cradling a crying newborn in her arms, 28-year-old Kruti looks into the face of the baby boy she will soon have to give away. She gave birth a few weeks ago for a Canadian couple at a clinic in Gujarat.
It's the second time she has carried another couple's child in a rent-a-womb trend that is part of India's growing medical tourism industry where commercial surrogacy is now worth $2.5 billion each year.
"It's my choice to become a surrogate mother," says Kruti, "I feel good about myself for helping a childless woman have a baby."
Critics suggest the practise exploits women in poverty, but Kruti says she has few other options. "I'm illiterate, but I dream that my own children will be educated in a good school. For that, I need lots of money," she explains.
And she's not alone. It is estimated that surrogate mothers delivered 20,000 births across India last year. Most mothers are poor women living in urban slums and can earn up to $10,000 for carrying a baby, a huge amount for women who earn less than Rs 200 a day.
Rimi is 27, and delivered her first surrogate baby last January. She got paid $6,000 and introduced five other women from her slum to the clinic.
"Since my husband dumped me three years ago, I could not raise my two children by myself," she says, arguing that she sees nothing wrong with the practice.
Clinics charge parents between $12,000 and $30,000 for the surrogacy service for a package that includes fertilisation, the surrogate mother's payment and delivery of the baby at the hospital.
According to the World Health Organisation, up to 10 per cent of couples worldwide are unable to have children. Many of them visit in-vitro fertilisation clinics, and around two per cent need surrogate mothers to help them give birth to a child. India has about 1,000 in-vitro fertilisation clinics, and more than half of them provide commercial surrogacy.
Surrogacy is allowed in some states in North America, but in India it's two to three times cheaper. And while some people support surrogacy itself, others say it sees babies treated as commodities and there are no laws to protect the rights of surrogate mothers. The women often don't get any special pre- or post-natal care.
A draft law called the Bill of Assisted Reproductive Technologies was finalised two years ago, and aims to protect Indian surrogate mothers. It is due to be tabled in parliament this year and if it passes, commercial surrogacy will remain legal, but with stricter regulations.
Under the draft law, a woman acting as a surrogate mother must be between 22 and 34 years old and can only give birth to a total of five babies, including her own children.
Rimi, who has two children of her own, says she aims to be a surrogate mother again. She says: "It is the truth that I did it for money. We all do it for the money."
Article Source: http://www.nepalitimes.com/issue/2012/08/17/International/19533#.UDKizaAw8TA
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