Surrogacy Business Suffers From Birth Pangs

Yearning for a child, a US national got enrolled with a city-based infertility Centre a few years ago and his surrogate is all set to conceive in just about a few months from now, but a recent home ministry directive has dashed his hopes.

Until last week, this single male from Houston, would have had a smooth journey back home with the little one in tow but a ban on gay couples, single foreigners and couples who have been married for less than two years from having an Indian surrogate bear their child means he is up against the tide.

Around 100 wannabe parents from the recently banned categories have been coming from several countries including the United States and the United Kingdom to Hyderabad, a hub for surrogacy after Delhi and Mumbai, bringing in estimated annual revenue of around Rs. 14 crore.

Specialists say there are several such cases in India wherein the surrogate is pregnant with the child currently and they don’t know what the fate of these children would be as there is no cut-off date mentioned in the new guidelines. “Also, what about the frozen eggs?” the doctors wonder.

Doctors at Kiran Infertility Centre that gets around 120 foreign nationals for surrogacy say the move will be a drain on the economy. Dr Samit Sekhar, chief embryologist and surrogacy and IVF program director, said that as per the new directive, except a foreign “man and woman” who have been married for a period of at least two years, no one else will be eligible to have an Indian surrogate bear their child.

“A lot of couples who come to us are heterosexual couples but unmarried. In foreign countries, marriage can be an expensive proposition and several couples refrain from it. To deny them the right to have a baby is not correct,” says Dr Sekhar. He adds that reproductive tourism is a win-win situation for everybody as people who cannot conceive get a child and a surrogate earns about Rs. 2-3.5 lakh.

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