Monday, October 18, 2010
The abuse and misuse of surrogacy
Surrogacy in India gets a lot of press - and often for all the wrong reasons.
There's a lot of talk about how rich Westerners are coming to India for surrogacy and exploiting poor women by using their uterus to have a baby.
Actually, it is true that there is a lot of exploitation occurring - but it's not just the poor women who are being exploited.
In my opinion, a lot of the exploitation is by the IVF clinics - but not of the poor women, but of the rich infertile couples who come to them for treatment !
Many infertile couples are quite desperate to have a baby and are willing to clutch at straws. They've read a lot about how India has become the surrogacy capital of the world - and how it is much less expensive to do surrogacy in India than in other parts of the world. Because so many of them have failed many IVF cycles, they naively believe that surrogacy is the solution to all their problems. After all, the fact that they are infertile means that their bodies are defective. If they use a healthy young woman to have a baby, how can this possibly fail ?
They therefore scour the internet, looking for surrogacy treatment - and there are lots of doctors who are happy to oblige them, because surrogacy treatment spells big bucks for the clinic. Unfortunately, many doctors do not bother to educate the patient , which means a lot of them end up wasting a lot of their money pursuing the wrong treatment.
For example, for many older women, surrogacy is not a good treatment option. This is because their infertility is a result of their old eggs - there's nothing wrong with their uterus, which means that using another woman's uterus will not help to improve their chances of getting pregnant. It will just add to their costs, that's all !
However, in their desperation, they do not bother to do their homework or explore their options intelligently. Surrogacy seems to be the solution to their problems in their eyes and they are happy to pay the money, sign a contract and start treatment. Doctors are happy to pander to their whims - after all, which doctor in their right mind will turn away so much income when it's falling into his lap ? And what's wrong with doing the treatment - isn't this what the patient wants ? After all, if the patient wants it and is willing to pay for it, isn't it the doctor's job to provide the treatment ?
Doctors do not bother to explain to patients that the success rate with surrogacy is limited - especially when it is done with an older woman's eggs. When the surrogacy cycle fails, the infertile patient just blames herself - and signs up for another cycle !
Even worse, many doctors actively cheat their patients. They tell the patient the surrogate is pregnant by claiming that her HCG test is positive. The patients ( who are in the USA) have no way of verifying this - and are on top of the moon. They start celebrating - and then after 8 weeks, they get a phone call, saying - Sorry, your surrogate miscarried ! The patients just blame their fate - and are happy to try again . At least we achieved a pregnancy - maybe we'll be luckier the next time. The doctor has already collected his full fees for the first treatment cycle - and then very kindly offers the patient a discount for their second treatment cycle ! Patients are hooked - and some have done 4-5 surrogacy cycles, without ever getting a baby !
Sadly, there is no way of checking what is happening, as a result of which unscrupulous doctors merrily continue taking hapless patients for a ride. Many doctors really do not care what happens, as long as they get their payment - and there's always another sucker waiting in line !
It's just a matter of time till these malpractises are exposed - at which time , the shi*te will hit the fan and all IVF doctors, both good and bad will pay the price !
My suggestion to patients is simple - do your homework ! Your best protection against exploitation is information therapy !