CSR calls on Centre to clear ART Bill to protect women acting as surrogate mothers

   Mar 2, 6:18 pm

New Delhi, Mar.2 (ANI): Releasing a Centre for Social Research (CSR) report on " Surrogacy Motherhood: Ethical or Commercial", based on a study conducted in Gujarat, CSR director and noted women activist Dr Ranjana Kumari on Friday urged the government to expeditiously clear the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Bill 2010 to "ensure protection of social, emotional and economic security of women who render their wombs thus undergoing severe mental trauma in order to sustain their livelihoods."

Stating that India was becoming infamous as the world capital of surrogacy motherhood, Kumari said there is an urgent need to protect the rights of surrogate mothers besides strengthening legislation to curb proliferation of assisted reproductive technology clinics across the country.

The report recommends, "A clearly defined law needs to be drafted immediately which will pronounce in detail the Indian government's stand on surrogacy; so that discrete activity leading to exploitation of the surrogate mother can be stopped."

"It also says that the citizenship right of the surrogate baby is also of crucial importance and asks "the Indian government to take a stand in terms of conferring the surrogate baby Indian citizenship as s/he is born in the womb of an Indian (the surrogate mother) and in India."

Health Insurance for both the surrogate mother and the child is essential to ensure a healthy life, the report points out.

The report showcases the rise in surrogacy over the years and why India is becoming a viable option for the international medical tourists.

"Cheap medical facilities, advanced reproductive technological know-how, coupled with poor socio-economic conditions, and a lack of regulatory laws in India, combines to make India an attractive option," said Manasi Mishra, head of research, CSR, and lead author of the report.

The report also raises concern about the rights of the surrogate mother and the illegal functioning of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) clinics across the country.

It also raises questions on whether surrogate motherhood should be regulated, and if so, in what way. If agreement could be achieved with regard to regulation, the question remains whether the standards that are set could be maintained, mentions the report.

"There should be legislation directly on the subject of surrogacy arrangement involving all the three parties i.e. the surrogate mother, the commissioning parents and the child. There is a need of right-based legal framework for the surrogate mothers, as the ICMR guidelines are not enough", said Dr Kumari.

The volume of the trade arising from a surrogacy arrangement is estimated to be around 500 million dollars and the numbers of cases of surrogacy are increasing rapidly. The exact extent of this practice in India is not known, but inquiries have revealed that this practice has doubled in the last few years.

There is a growing demand for fair-skinned, educated young women to become surrogate mothers for foreign couples. Often, couples have to wait for as long as eight months to a year for their turn. Normally women from small towns are selected for outsourcing pregnancy. In places like Anand, Surat, Jamnagar, Bhopal and Indore, a large number of couples from both within India and abroad travel to fulfill their desire for a child.

The average cost of surrogacy is around 10,000 to 30,000 dollars, which includes the remuneration of the surrogate mothers, IVF costs, foods and consumables, legal and doctors' fees, delivery cost and antenatal care.

For International medical tourists the cost seems extremely reasonable which instigates more couples to seek such treatment in India.

However, the actual womb donors are often deprived of their rightful compensation.

Most of the middlemen, medical clinics and lawyers eat up the largest portion of money accepted from the clients.

According to the report, out of the Rs 12-15 lakhs that are spent on surrogacy, the mothers get a meagre one to two percent. (ANI)

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