Did you happen to catch PBS’ report on a growing way to go to all lengths to have a baby? Indian surrogacy. Check out how it works, and the pros and cons…
Many couples who desperately want a baby and face the issue of the woman not being able to carry the child have had parental surrogacy in this country as an option. However, it does not come without costs and risks. It costs thousands of dollars, and many states differ on their laws on the legality of surrogate parenting.
However, according to a recent report by the PBS Newshour, there is a lower cost, legally easier option: couples can hire a surrogate from India. The surrogacy business has become a half-billion dollar industry in India.
The Akanksha Clinic in Mumbai is one place they can go. It has successfully delivered surrogate children for parents from all over the world since 2004. However, not everyone agrees it is the best idea for couples needing surrogate mothers. Here are some pros and cons:
-It has a much lower cost: couples pay about $10,000-15,000 (sometimes less) instead of the equivalent of at least double that in many countries.
-That amount of money is a fortune to an Indian woman; it is often enough to ensure her existing children can go to school and more.
-Unlike some contracts, such as in the U.S. that have been challenged by surrogate mothers seeking custody of the child they carried, purportedly in India it is clear that the surrogate mother cannot keep the child. And even when the contract is not clear, the Indian women are clear that they do not want to keep another child. They want the couple’s money—that’s it.
-According to Dr. Arthur Caplan, Director of University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics, in India the contracts are “usually written, to be blunt, to protect the wealthy people who are commissioning the baby, so that if the woman suffers an injury, if the woman has a health problem due to childbirth, if there’s a long-term chronic condition, then what?”
-He also says that often to enhance the chances of pregnancy, too many embryos can be implanted into the surrogate mother. Why? Because the wealthy couple from another country does not want to have to come back. They want to maximize the chances of pregnancy, even if it “might compromise the interests of the babies.”
-Caplan is also concerned about where the evolution of surrogacy might take us. It could very well go beyond helping infertile couples, to being a way for mothers who could carry a child to opt not to, so they could have a child without having to go through the pregnancy process (this is already happening). As genetic knowledge advances, he is also concerned that surrogacy could be involved in fertile couples wanting to make babies with “traits and properties” that they want and don’t want—in other words, to make what they think is the perfect child.
On one hand, it seems, a win-win-win for all parties involved if it works. But what are the bioethics—in other words, how far should surrogacy be allowed to go?