On January 1st, 70000 babies were born in India. More than any other country in the world! One more reason to rejoice that commercial surrogacy was recently banned by the Indian government. Hopefully, this will boost adoption in India.
The advocates for commercial surrogacy believe that it helps alleviate poverty. But the truth is that poor women are paid insufficiently for surrogacy and many face social stigma. To claim that payments can be regulated by the government is ridiculous. When is enforcement of any law done properly in this country? In India, even enforcing traffic laws is a mammoth task.
The truth is that the poorer the women are, the more babies they want to give birth to. And they do not understand that the compensation they get is a pittance compared to what clinics charge. Also, uneducated and uninformed as many of them are, they seem not to care about the risk to life with every pregnancy.
Even a normal pregnancy puts physical strain on the body. The baby takes all its nutrition from the mother and these poor women do not have a healthy enough postpartum diet to replenish their bodies. Instead, they are likely to give birth again. The bones are robbed of their calcium and the pelvic and urethral muscles can be adversely affected. This wear and tear on the body is called the “maternal depletion syndrome.” Pregnancy also brings to the fore any underlying health condition of the mother, posing a risk to her life. The advocates for surrogacy often gloss over this aspect.
Unfortunately, these victims of surrogacy spend the money they get on their families, not on themselves. In a country where the status of women is not exactly desirable, poor women will be pressured by their families into commercial exploitation of their bodies.
Civilized countries banned surrogacy a long time ago and it was disgusting to see people from those countries coming here in droves to exploit Indian women.
True, the current bill is retrograde. It allows surrogacy without payment but not for same-sex couples, nor for singles. And altruistic (non-commercial) surrogacy is not without pitfalls. There could be pressure on women – daughters-in-law, sisters-in-law – to become surrogates. But the numbers affected will be minuscule when compared to commercial surrogacy. To compare the two is to deliberately turn a blind eye to ground realities.