Friday 8 February 2013

India's growing 'rent-a-womb' industry

Lower costs have made the country a top destination for childless couples looking for surrogate mothers.

Margaret, a social worker from South Australia, discovered in her late 20s that she could not give birth to a child. Given the long waiting list for adoption, she decided at age 39 to use a surrogate mother instead.

Like many Australians, she decided to hire an Indian surrogate mother. Now a mother of twins, Margaret said it was "just miraculous that this was a possibility for us".

Bobby and Nikki Bains, from Essex in the United Kingdom, had lost all hopes of having a child after five in-vitro fertilisation attempts and spent two years trying to find a suitable surrogate in the UK. Given that advertising for a surrogate is illegal there, they turned towards India and have now had two children with the help of surrogate mothers.

Margaret and the Bains are just some of the many foreign nationals who are increasingly visiting India in search of surrogate wombs. It has become a sunrise industry in India: the country is now home to approximately 1,000 surrogacy centres.

According to a recent article in Mother Jones, surrogacy is now an estimated $2.3bn business. Each year, it is estimated that 25,000 couples visit India for surrogacy services, resulting in more than 2,000 births.

"And the real figures can be much higher," Eric Blyth, Professor of Social Work, University of Huddersfield, Queensgate, told Al Jazeera, as there can be the bypassing of "official scrutiny… making monitoring and other follow up more difficult". 

Read more here...

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