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Insights into Editorials: Regulate, don’t Eliminate

Insights into Editorials: Regulate, don’t Eliminate

05 November 2015

The government’s recent proposal to ban commercial surrogacy in India has sparked a heated debate in the country.

Why, according to some such move would be disastrous?

  • Over the years, the surrogacy industry in India has grown into a multi-crore industry. Such move would not just badly hit surrogacy industry in India, but also would put embryonic human lives, being gestated in the safe wombs of alternate mothers, at stake.
  • Such ban would affect the surrogates, who are in it because it is a means of livelihood. From their perspective, there is nothing morally or ethically wrong because the babies are conceived through injection (embryo implant) and not through sexual intercourse.
  • The ban would also hurt the sentiments of intending parents. For them, surrogacy is a boon which gives them the child they never thought they could have.
  • Fertility specialists would lose their job.

How such ban proved disastrous in Thailand?

Thailand, a popular destination for fertility tourism, suddenly clamped a ban on commercial surrogacy earlier this year, after a couple of disasters exposed the dark side of this industry. However, the result was chaos. A number of surrogates in various stages of pregnancy were left in limbo. Intending parents did not know how to collect their babies. Consequently, the surrogacy industry got pushed underground.

Surrogacy in India:

  • Commercial surrogacy in India has been around for a couple of decades now. The first surrogate baby in India was born in 1994. The industry has since evolved, and today India offers some of the best fertility packages in the world. Intending parents with a valid fertility visa can come to India and get their IVF procedures done, hire healthy surrogates, return home, and monitor the entire pregnancy from afar. They can also get proper exit visas to take the children home after they are born.
  • Earlier, the agreements between intending parents and surrogates were oral and the latter were often underpaid and ill-treated. Today, there are proper contracts to ensure that neither party is cheated. In many of the bigger and better organised fertility clinics, the surrogates are housed in special homes, given proper diet, medical checkups and maintenance allowances.
  • At present, the surrogacy business functions under the regulatory guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research. It is estimated that surrogacy industry in India has a turnover of more than $400 million a year.

Why India is famous for commercial surrogacy?

  • Foreigners prefer India because it is cheaper here or because commercial surrogacy is unavailable in their own countries.
  • In India, egg donations are legal and cheaper. While in some countries it is totally banned, and in other countries it has become a big business.


Before such ban is invoked, the government has to take into consideration the needs and aspirations of various people involved in this business. Primarily there are the babies born through surrogacy whose citizenship and right to be protected by their biological parents is of primary importance. Surrogacy industry in India is fully grown today. And banning at this stage will only create chaos and push the business underground. Instead, framing a proper law, providing good technical inputs and good political will would help ease the situation. Strict regulations should also be put in place to deal with bogus embryologists and doctors, the agents and touts who lure and cheat surrogates.


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1) Source: The Hindu, The Indian Express



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2) Source: The Hindu

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