The industry – Advantage India
Valued at more than $450 million in India, the industry is growing at a rapid pace. While exact figures are hard to come by, it is said that the number of cases of surrogacy has doubled over the past three years (1).
India has great advantage in the field of medical outsourcing:
Medical science has been identified as the next promising field in off shoring, where India has tremendous competitive advantage. India possesses a rare combination of low costs and thousands of highly skilled medical professionals and support staff. The major portion of costs of a medical procedure is from labour and not from inputs rendered too expensive due to heavy direct and indirect taxation. Moreover, modern electronic and bio-medical equipment are now within reach, thanks to eased import controls and downing of customs duties as demanded by WTO provisions. So, procedures, using state-of-art technology, can be performed in India at almost half the cost charged in developed countries. (5)
Particularly in case of surrogate motherhood, Americans and Europeans, even those that can afford the cost of surrogacy in their own countries, prefer to come to India to nurture babies till their birth in Indian wombs. According to an Anand-based gynecologist and obstetrician Dr Naina Patel, most of her foreign clients admire Gujarati women. These females maintain a high standard of health and hygiene and are free of vices like alcohol, smoking and drugs. Never mind the lofty nationalists shedding tears for their dearest country that it has become a store for childless foreign couples to buy a child from! After all, blowhards of their ilk dub call-centre employees as ‘cyber coolies’; yet, the BPO boom has revolutionised Indian economy, with its multiplier effects. (5)
Surrogate motherhood. Far lower costs than using a surrogate mother in the West. Commercial surrogacy, which is banned in some states and some European countries, was legalized in India in 2002. The cost comes to about $25,000, roughly a third of the typical price in the United States. That includes the medical procedures; payment to the surrogate mother, which is often, but not always, done through the clinic; plus air tickets and hotels for two trips to India (one for the fertilization and a second to collect the baby). (2) In India the surrogate mother signs away her rights to the baby as soon as she has delivered it. Also, the implanting of five embryos into the womb of the surrogate mother is permissible (1).
For example, Planet Hospital (3) in the USA arranges surrogacy for couples donating egg or sperm, for single parents, or for gay couples who may not be able to legally hire surrogates in their home countries, such as for example Israel (2).
Rotunda -The Center For Human Reproduction (located in India) offers a comprehensive range of infertility services under one roof, and we are known for our innovation, integrity, medical and technical excellence, personalized service, and consistent willingness to accept patients facing the most difficult medical challenges. The center has all the facilities required to deliver a full range of services to couples requiring assistance conceiving. This ensures that patients are required to visit only one site for all stages of their diagnosis and treatments. (8). Some site info is available in Hebrew, suggesting a lot of business from Israel.
In-vitro fertilization. Fertilization of the egg and sperm in a test tube. Once fertilized, the embryo is transferred into the uterus of the biological mother. If the biological mother cannot carry the fetus, a surrogate mother is then obtained. Costs said to be around 20% of costs in the U.S. (1)
High-quality health care is available in private hospitals, which provide Westerners with excellent health facilities at a fraction of the cost back home. This has in fact has spurred a larger medical tourism industry. (1)
Lower middle class women of good health work as surrogate mothers. They earn about $2,500, which is significant in a country where the per capita annual income is $500 and where about 35% of the population lives on less than $1 a day (1). The highest demand, explain experts, are for the educated and fair-complexioned surrogates from North India. Currently, the main centres for surrogacy in India are New Delhi, Anand and Surat in Gujarat and Pune in Maharashtra. (9)
Doctors perform procedures and oversee laboratory work.
Brokers arrange the deals and the surrogate mothers.
Exploitation of women. Workers in industry insist that there is no exploitation, that the surrogate mother is well looked after by the couple paying for her services. The latter apparently ensure that she eats well when she is carrying the baby. The doctors claim they ensure that the surrogate mothers don’t bond with the baby by constantly reminding them that the fetus in their womb is not theirs (1). On the other hand, it has been suggested that carrying babies not fathered by their spouses empowers them to be self-reliant and provide a better life to family members. And, they are bringing happiness to others’ lives (5). Critics say the couples are exploiting poor women in India — a country with an alarmingly high maternal death rate — by hiring them at a cut-rate cost to undergo the hardship, pain and risks of labor. ”It raises the factor of baby farms in developing countries,” said Dr. John Lantos of the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City, Mo. “It comes down to questions of voluntariness and risk.” (11)
Replacing international adoption – This could reduce the bad effects of international adoption (i.e. kidnapping of babies). (6) Adoption itself is expensive and can be frustrating for prospective parents (7).
Exploitation by wealthier Westerners. “Rich white American women paying poor women of color in developing nations to gestate their children for them seems wrong. I don’t oppose reproductive technologies, but it gets trickier when you’re paying someone in a far less privileged situation to be a human incubator for you.” (4) (10)
Made in India is a feature length documentary film (in progress) about the human experiences behind the phenomena of “outsourcing” surrogate mothers to India.