Thursday, September 28, 2006

Are they smuggling out the babies after doing surrogacy in India ?

I am amazed by how much media interest there is in the "surrogacy boom" which is being reported from India. However, I have a number of worries about this, which have still not been clarified.

Today, surrogacy is technically legal in India ( since there is no law which regulates it). The reason why so many infertile couples from the US and UK are rushing to India for surrogacy treatment is that not only is IVF treatment much less expensive here, surrogates also charge much less ! Doing the surrogacy treatment in an IVF clinic is not a problem at all and any IVF clinic can perform this with ease , so this is not an issue.

However, the problems start after the surrogate gives birth. At present, there is no legal protection for surrogacy in India, which means there is no secure mechanism by which foreign couples can take their baby back with them to their own country.

Let's look at this closely and assume the treatment has been successful; the pregnancy has been uneventful; and the child is now born in an Indian clinic. Whose name is going to appear on the birth certificate ? How will the infertile couple claim parenthood ? How will they take the child back with them to their home country after the birth ? And what happens if the surrogate ( or her husband) changes her mind and refuses to hand over the baby ? Or blackmails you for custody ?

While many clinics talk about the " Indian Council of Medical Research ( ICMR ) guidelines for surrogacy"; and about how they make the surrogate sign an agreement to protect the infertile couple, what they do not tell the patient is that the guidelines are just a piece of paper which have no legal validity whatsoever !

I am still amazed ( and concerned) as to how foreign couples are taking their surrogate babies back with them , given the legal vacuum which exists today. Are doctors conniving with them to put false names on the birth certificates ( which means the obliging doctor puts the surrogate's name on the birth certificate, and not the birth mother's)? Or are they smuggling these babies out ?

The most worrisome is that effectively a "legal blackmarket adoption" channel has now been opened up ! An unscrupulous doctor could handover an unwanted new born baby ( from an unmarried mother, for example) to a rich infertile couple, and claim that it was actually genetically theirs because they had undertaken surrogacy treatment ! Not only would this allow couples to bypass the regular legal adoption channels, it would create an avenue for some crooked doctors to make a lot of quick bucks !

Why isn't anyone else worried ?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:39 AM

    There was one UK grandmother who gave birth to her own grandchildren for her daughter who couldn't. They had issues bringing the twins back to the UK for six months because of the UK passport issue. Maybe you could look into that case for more information on how it was resolved.

    Also, talking about people using sham surrogacy as a cover for a black market adoption. You are talking about people willing to break the law. There are black market agencies who set up sham adoptions without the cover of surrogacy. We don't ban the act of adopting. The point is, there will always be people ready and willing to break the law to the detriment of a child, and they should be investigated and stopped. But unlike what happens at adoption agencies around the world, we have not even had one such case or even an accusation of this happening under cover of surrogacy.

    Maybe people aren't worried because they see what worrying has done in the UK. Where the limits and regulations have created an atmosphere where new parents live in fear for two years that they will have to give up their child if they are lucky enough to find a surrogate in limited supply, and donors may have an unexpected surprise 18 years later. Really, can we fault them for not following that example?


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