Fake Kahaani to embrace motherhood! #Surrogacy


, TNN | Apr 26, 2012

AHMEDABAD: The artificial stomach Vidya Balan sported in the film ‘Kahaani‘ was the surprise element in the climax. In real life, the fake tummy is commonly used by women opting for surrogacy to have a child but want their families to believe they are the one’s carrying that bundle of joy!

Many women from traditional communities can’t tell their in-laws and extended families that they have employed a surrogate and instead walk around with strap-ons for nine months to simulate a pregnant stomach.

In an extreme case, a gynecologist couple chose to have an incision on the stomach of the wife with sutures so that it looked like a caesarean section. An artificial stomach would not have worked in their case as there were many doctors in the family who are more difficult to deceive.

Surrogacy expert from Anand Dr Naina Patel says an IIT-graduate couple from Chennai opted for an artificial stomach as the woman wanted to avoid the disapproval of her in-laws. “She did not have a uterus and her in-laws would never have accepted that the child was born through another’s woman’s womb,” says Patel.

Hema Inamdar, a soft toy maker, specializes in fake tummies. “A woman called from the UK saying she felt she was actually carrying a baby when she wore the tummy,” says Inamdar. One can get artificial stomachs in sets of three. The first set simulates three, five and seven months pregnancy. The other set simulates five, seven and nine months, with one set costing roughly Rs 1,000.

Fertility expert Dr Falguni Bavishi says NRI women too succumb to familial pressure. “A Gujarati woman in the US took artificial tummies with her after employing a surrogate, so that her in-laws would believe she was pregnant. She told them that she had to deliver the baby where the IVF treatment was done, got the baby from the surrogate and went back, her secret intact,” says Dr Bavishi.

In Mumbai, buy a baby boy in seven days for 2 lakhs


  Feb 20, 2012 –Mumbai: In an explosive sting operation that lasted for about a week, MiD DAY blows the lid off a thriving baby-selling racket in the city, in which infants are sold like commodities for Rs. 2-3
lakh.

Two MiD DAY reporters posed as a couple and approached the syndicate operating out of the innocuous, even respectable, setting of an orphanage for disabled kids in the far suburb of Ulhasnagar. At the end of the seven days, a six-day-old male child was sold to the undercover scribes for Rs. 2.30 lakh, with zero paperwork and no waiting time.

A resort for innumerable childless couples in this city desperate to enjoy the joys of parenthood without the hassle of the long-winded legal adoption process, the orphanage offers many options for the illegal transaction.

The easiest of these is pay the cash and take the child home within a week, bypassing the interminable waits (anywhere over 2 years) and the extensive documentation required to establish your credentials and financial status. All one needs do is produce an identity proof — authenticity no bar — and the alleged racketeers hand over the child along with the birth certificate with your name on it.

The babies are procured from marginalised couples, who perforce or willingly, sell their offspring for a few thousand rupees: the promise of square meals or some extra money is enough to induce the poor women into being exploited and making reproduction their trade. While they get a minimum amount, the few employees abetting the illicit trade pocket a major share of the rewards.

The kingpin of the racket has been supplying newborns to builders, businessmen and other affluent people across the state, deprived of natural parenthood.

Other than the straightforward purchase, the alleged offenders offer the alternative of surrogacy at the price of Rs. 10 lakh. The surrogacy option included choosing to establish sexual contact with
a woman who would then bear the child in her womb, rather than the more traditional IVF (in-vitro fertilisation). For this, the rate card is contingent on the financial standing of the customer, and the demands of the surrogate mother. She may ask that her accommodation and medical expenses be borne till the time she delivers, other than her fee of a couple of lakhs.

After confirming the presence of the syndicate, we decided to ‘buy’ a child to establish the existence of this child trafficking.

The following is an in-depth account of the sting — as narrated by MiD DAY reporters Bhupen Patel and Shubha Shetty-Saha — starting from February 13, when they found out where the racket is taking place, and concluding seven days later with the sale of a baby.

Read more here

The Regulation of Surrogacy in India


Questions and Concerns: SAMA– a resource group for women and health.

As the clamor dies down, of news reports celebrating the ‘miracle of science’ that made the arrival of Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao’s baby boy possible, it would serve to look more closely at commercial surrogacy in India. Estimated to be a multi-million dollar industry, Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs, through which surrogacies are conducted) are a recent and fast-growing addition to India’s medical market and medical tourism sector. Their unregulated proliferation over the last few years has raised serious issues of safety, ethical practice, costs, and rights. While the proposed Draft Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill & Rules-2010 is a long-awaited step towards regulation, several clauses, especially concerning commercial surrogacy, leave much to be desired.

The 2010 Draft stipulates that payment to the surrogate is to be made in five installments, with the majority, i.e. 75 %, to be made as the fifth and final installment, following the delivery of the child. In the 2008 draft, payment was divided into three installments, with 75% of the payment to be made in the first installment itself. This not only shows a clear priority accorded to the intended parents, but also betrays that the worth of the surrogate’s labour, pregnancy, related emotional and physical risks etc are considered reducible to and meaningless without a tangible reproductive ‘output’, the baby. The revision, therefore, is highly imbalanced, exploitative and unfavourable to the surrogate.

According to the Bill, only gestational surrogacy, i.e. through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Embryo Transfer (ET), will be permitted, and genetic surrogacy, i.e. through Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI) will not. By ruling out genetic surrogacy, the bill seeks to foreclose the possibility of any contesting claims over the baby by the surrogate mother, thus preserving the contract. Yet, genetic surrogacy through IUI where possible remains a less commercial and less invasive option, and avoids the excessive use of IVF for obtaining donor eggs.

The present Draft has also increased the number of permitted successful live births for a surrogate from three (in the previous Draft) to five; this is inclusive of the surrogate’s own children. This provision inadequately addresses an aspect critical to the surrogate’s health: the number of permitted cycles she can undergo. Since the number of live births is not equivalent to the number of ART cycles, as the success rates of the procedure are low, to effectively ensure that the surrogate’s health is not exploited, the maximum number of ART cycles she can undergo must also be specified.

The draft also mentions that the maximum number of embryo transfers per couple that a surrogate can undergo is three. But the maximum number of couples this is applicable to is not circumscribed. Once again, given the low success rates of ARTs, all embryos transfers, like cycles, may not result in successful births. Thus, a surrogate may go through many cycles and embryo transfers for many couples before achieving the acceptable limit of five successful live births; this will adversely impact her health. Hence, this provision makes only a superficial attempt at regulation, with enough scope for misuse and exploitation.

Many serious health risks (procedural and drug-related, for both the woman and the child) need to be acknowledged and mentioned in the consent form. The consent form should also mention, where relevant, that long-term effects of drugs and procedures in ARTs are under-researched.

The Bill mentions that the commissioning parent(s) shall ensure that the surrogate mother and the child she delivers are ‘appropriately’ insured; while this is indeed necessary, more elaboration is required on the nature and extent of insurance that will be provided, particularly with regard to post-delivery follow-up and care, failing which the commissioning parent(s) and the overseeing clinic should be held legally responsible.

The draft Bill states that ARTs will be available to all single persons, married couples and unmarried couples. However, couple is defined as two persons ‘having a sexual relationship that is legal in India’. In addition, the bill defines both married and unmarried couple, as being in a marriage or relationship respectively that is legal in the country of which they are citizens. As such, it is not clear how these three definitions will be read together, and if ARTs will be available for gay couples, particularly Indian gay couples. This needs to be clarified and ascertained from a rights perspective, without any discrimination, since homosexuality has been decriminalized (but not legalized) in India.

The Bill mandates the appointment of a local guardian in case of surrogacy arrangements where the intended couple is staying outside India. This local guardian will be legally obliged to take delivery of the child born of the surrogacy arrangement if the intended couple does not do so. It appears that the local guardian may hand over such a child to an adoption agency, or bring him/her up. This is a significant responsibility, and as such the role of the local guardian needs to be clearly demarcated and overseen to prevent abuse.

In lieu of the recent and controversial cases (Baby Manji, Dan Goldberg, etc) of international surrogacy that have resulted in legal battles for citizenship status for the child/ren, the Bill has made provisions to address this issue. Now, the draft ART Bill 2010 mandates that any foreign couple accessing surrogacy in India must produce a certificate from their country declaring that it permits surrogacy, and will recognize the child/ren born out of surrogacy as its legal citizen/s. This is a welcome move. Nonetheless, many issues remain to be addressed; for instance, stem cell research that uses ‘spare’ IVF embryos raises ethical concerns such as, obtaining informed consent from users. It can be concluded that engagement with policy to regulate the ART industry has been a case of some steps forward and some steps back; yet, the need to engage remains.

For a full critique of the Bill please write to sama.womenshealth@gmail.com

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