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Surrogacy flung the door wide open for the commercialization of one woman’s womb, gratifying another woman the umbilical cheer- by Pratiksha Kapoor

As you may anticipate, In Vitro Fertilization and Uterine Embryo Transfer is a physically and emotionally demanding. Its also a very expensive procedure. Apart from these complexities, the use of artificial insemination and the recent development of vitro fertilization have eliminated the necessity for sexual intercourse in order to establish pregnancy.

With a perceptibly restrictive global market for international adoption and  in the view of a mass global expansion of surrogacy programs, it is almost certain in nations such as India, which have access to contemporary technology and skilled individuals who can provide surrogacy programs at lower cost, to serve the demand in wealthier nations the market tends to flourish

With infertility rates on the rise and a growing acceptance of same-sex couples, thousands of people annually are opting for surrogacy as a way of having genetic children through a process of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and embryo transfer.

Surrogacy rubric circumscribes traditional and gestational surrogacy at large. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother’s egg is used, making her the genetic mother. In gestational surrogacy, the egg is provided by the intended mother or a donor. The egg is fertilised through in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and then placed inside the surrogate mother.



In 1994, Chennai, the first gestational surrogacy in India took place, though it relatively gained pace since 2001 and expanded the spectrum of medical tourism. India is rapidly setting a lucrative market spot for fertility tourists due to a number of crowning factors making headway for a booming commercial surrogacy market. India is one amongst the meager lot of countries with commercialized surrogacy including Georgia, Russia, Thailand and Ukraine and a few U.S. states. Indian government’s prearranged and concerted efforts have by and large played a vital role to promote medical tourism, with a growth at the rate of 30% per year for surrogacy tourism.

A demonstrator kicks a riot policeman during clashes in central Athens on Tuesday, June 29, 2010. Some 16,000 people took part in two separate demonstrations, the second of which turned violent as stone-throwing youths fought with riot police. Public services shut down across Greece Tuesday as workers walked off the job in a new nationwide general strike that disrupted public transport, left hospitals operating on emergency staff and pulled all news broadcasts off the air. (AP Photo)

Exerting influence on market and enticing the consumers, India provides for the low-cost technology, skilled doctors, and a plentiful supply of surrogates, attracting nationals from Britain, the United States, Australia and Japan, to name a few. The couples in search of fertility treatment travel not only from Western countries, but also from neighboring countries of Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Singapore. The number of websites advertising and marketing heavily geared foreigners. Virtually every state in India irrespective of rural or urban areas have IVF and other fertility clinics.

Thriving the healthcare sector and boosting the economy, the surrogacy business till 2012 was more than $400 million a year, with over 3,000 fertility clinics across India enunciating medical development with affluence and productivity.

 Though the market has boomed rapidly since years, considering evolving legislative paradigms India might expose a massively restricted surrogacy market, and will shut the door to singles and gay couples.


Surrogacy is banned completely, meaning infertile couples are unable to turn to surrogacy as an option. But France does not put a ban on couples bringing in children from surrogacy contracts abroad.


Commercial surrogacy is criminal under the Human Reproductive Technology Ordinance 2000. The law is phrased in a manner that no one can pay a surrogate, no surrogate can receive money, and no one can arrange a commercial surrogacy (the same applies to the supply of gametes), no matter within or outside Hong Kong. Normally only the gametes of the intended parents can be used.


The law bans foreign couples from seeking surrogacy services and stipulates that surrogate mothers must be Thai and over 25.The important part is if the couple seeking surrogacy services is Thai or the couple is mixed-race, they can find a Thai woman to be their surrogate providing she is over 25.


Despite the government crackdown, the surrogacy services and agencies are flourishing in China and doing profitable business. According to Chinese newspaper, Global Times, the surrogacy market in Beijing is still flourishing. Although most agencies had stopped surrogacy services due to government crackdown but many are still open and rendering services to people.


Experts say that countries popular with parents for surrogacy arrangements are the US, India, Thailand, Ukraine and Russia. Mexico, Nepal, Poland and Georgia are also among the countries that might possibly provide for surrogacy arrangements. Costs may vary significantly on several paradigms-

  • From country to country
  • The number of IVF cycles needed
  • Whether health insurance is required

An estimated approximate average costs in different countries as per Families Through Surrogacy (International NGO)country


Outsourcing your needs to a third party miles away dimes a dozen and yet you opportune a fortune. The industry sees it as a propitious situation: where childless couples see their pipe dream becoming an undisputed reality with a genetic child and the strapped surrogate mother gets a plentiful sum to no more succumb her needs.


Over a period of time, social activists have raised their concerns terming surrogacy as a business that not only reinforces the gender stereotype of commodifying a woman, but also leads to the exploitation of surrogates who often have no knowledge of their rights and the complexities involved in the process. In several countries where surrogacy is illegal or banned by the government, the market is going totally unregulated resulting in violation of human rights either of the surrogate mother or the couple who are paying for the health facilities. There have also been reports of women being trafficked into the industry. Also there is no fixed amount paid to surrogates and many surrogates do not get the full amount promised, while others get nothing if they miscarry.

Is banning of fertility tourism a solution to the problem? Will it be possible to ban and regulate all informal measures or do we need more accountable laws to regulate the same.


The woman behind South East Asia’s first ICSI baby, 1994, the one to set up the first PGD laboratory in India 1999 and the pioneer of Cumulus Aided Transfer (CAT) for the first time in the world, author of over 100 books with a number of eminent awards, Dr Firuza Parikh has woven dreams of several couples and has been a major hand in revolutionizing healthcare.

firuza_parikh_powerThis is my 25th year as the Director of the IVF centre at Jaslok Hospital. My training in the field of ART started in 1986 when I began my fellowship at Yale University in USA. I consider myself fortunate to be able to help childless couples. Power for me is a translation of my medical knowledge put to use to help people.

How challenging has your journey been?
The biggest challenge has been to change the mindset of people. The onus of being infertile falls heavily on the woman. This has steadily diminished over the years with couples being more amenable to treatment. The other challenge has been to demystify infertility and its treatment.

Greatest achievement till date?

My biggest achievement is not a single event but the 7850 babies that have been created by my team. We have pioneered techniques like ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) in India. We have devised the technique of Cumulus Aided Transfer (CAT) which improves the chances of pregnancy for the first time in the world.

Best and the worst thing about your job?
The ability to create life is a God given opportunity and is the greatest source of satisfaction. Every baby’s birth fills me with the same excitement as the first time. The thing that saddens me is that not everyone can conceive with IVF

What are your views on people’s say-It is commercializing women womb and commodifying a child.

All medical treatments have a commercial angle to them. In surrogacy, couples who are infertile seek the help of another couple that is fertile and pay them a consideration for bearing their child. Surrogates are married women who have previously borne children. They deserve to be compensated. I do not see a problem there unless it leads to exploitation which is a possibility in any transaction of this nature. Hence we have laws and guidelines for surrogacy.

How do you think IVF is empowering women?

In our program, women take charge of their own treatment. Earlier they were blamed for being infertile regardless of whether the husband was responsible for the infertility. Besides infertility was a stigma. Through my book, ‘The Complete Guide To becoming Pregnant’ which is a national bestseller I hope that I have contributed towards de-stigmatizing infertility.

I believe that True empowerment makes a woman self sufficient and independent in her thinking!

Whom do you owe your success to?
My husband Rajesh who is India’s first Neuropsychiatrist, has been my constant supporter and also my critique. He balances my life with his logic and integrity. He is the major stakeholder in my success. My father was a man who believed in education and always believed that I would be a doctor. He inculcated in me the ability to work hard. My IVF team of 40 is responsible for our professional success. But the biggest contributors have been my patients for their belief and faith in me.

A message from you-

Work hard towards developing your skills. Be close to your friends and family. Induce independence in your team. Always be a team player. Be kind to all and show your gratitude to everyone. Stay humble.surrogacy-banner

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