Lawmakers in India are equating rampant surrogacy tourism in India with human trafficking and proposing a law to ban foreign parents, disrupting a multi-billion dollar industry that lures India’s poorest women to rent their womb
Recall in 2011, we reported how India had become a hub for surrogacy pregnancy because of lax regulations, the ease of the adoption process and the relatively low cost of getting a baby there. Three years later, Indian legislators are cracking down and working on a law to ban foreign parents from coming to India for purposes of surrogacy.
The Health Ministry and National Commission for Women (NCW) in India proposed new legislation to ban Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origins (PIOs) and foreigners from having children through surrogacy in India. The ban will also include foreigners of Indian-descent.
NCW Chairperson Lalita Kumaramangalam told the site Manoramo Online that unregulated surrogacy is leading to human trafficking.
“Most of the surrogate mothers are poor women,” Kumaramangalam said. “They face several hardships during the process. These include ambiguous contracts, health concerns, exploitation by middle men or hospital authorities, lack of enforceability of contract by mothers due to their socio-economic vulnerability.”
Indeed, surrogacy in India has become a multi-billion dollar industry and growing 17 to 20% annually, she added. The NCW noted that 30,000 illegal fertility clinics are operating in the country with majority of them being located in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Delhi.
NCW did ask that there be exemptions for single women.
“This is very unfair to single women whether they are widow or divorced,” Kumaramangalam said. “It is in a way restricting their reproductive rights.
The original bill, called Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation), was actually first drafted in 2010, before surrogacy in India ballooned, and was revised in 2013. The final bill will be presented November 15 for vote after a public comment period lapses.
“We don’t want to become hub of surrogacy in the world,”Kumaramangalam concluded. “There are a huge number of women who are trapped into this. The increasing amount of unregulated surrogacy happening in India is causing various problems for mother and the child.”