Surrogacy is the procedure through which a couple or a person can have another woman to lend her womb to carry and deliver a child. This process begins by placing a fresh or frozen sperm clinically in the womb of the surrogate mother.
Surrogacy can be divided into two main branches. In traditional surrogacy, the biological mother carries out a normal pregnancy and after the birth signs over the parental rights to the intended parents. This is a similar process to adoption. In gestational surrogacy, the woman may be biologically unrelated to the child she is carrying. Any surrogate mother who gets compensation for more than the pregnancy, healthcare, and living and baby delivery expenses is termed a commercial surrogate mother.
The process of surrogacy is undertaken in cases where the couple cannot naturally produce a child, or there is some form of deficiency either in the mother or the father. Even gay and lesbian couples can make use of surrogacy to have their own child.
Commercial surrogacy in India was legalized in 2002. Since then it has been one of the fastest growing industries in the country. Women, generally of the lower-middle and labor classes, take up surrogacy to have additional income for their families and a better quality of life. Some Indian women are also pressured by their families to sell their body as a surrogate to provide a helping hand financially.
Would-be parents in America, Canada, Australia, France, and other western countries often prefer Indian surrogate mothers, because India provides cheaper yet modern health care facilities, and because the legal formalities are much less in India – surrogacy can cost just one fifth what it would in their own country.
India being a developing country with strong values and ethics still is not comfortable with the surrogacy culture in its society. It is considered to be a matter of utter shame and grief for a contemporary Indian couple to be unable to have a child of their own. At the same hand women who make their womb available for surrogacy are looked down upon. Yet, for their economic survival, women of the lower classes take up surrogacy, without being open about it in society.
According to a survey conducted in 2011, pregnancy outsourcing is a 20 billion rupee industry in India, and is expected to increase to two and a half times that in 2012. A town in Gujarat is the center of paid pregnancy, with a center that provides surrogate mothers who rent their wombs. The London Times reported that an agent in Mumbai said that she delivered a baby to intended parents in the every 42 hours.
Commercial surrogacy in India, though legalized, is still considered a black mark socially. It is not just an aid to the Indian economy, but also a help to those who live a below-standard life. At the same time, the Indian government should carry out the legal requirements that ensure a women rendering her womb has complete knowledge about the procedure, understands the contracts well, and knows what her body will be going through.