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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

10/3/2013 (6 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Parliament to crack down on exploitation of poor women.

A new law could end a controversial practice in India, that of  a surrogate industry which provides thousands of women with an income, while using them as a commodity, offering rented wombs to carry someone elses child. 

Mothers in a surrogate house. Critics say the system exploits poor women.

Mothers in a surrogate house. Critics say the system exploits poor women.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/3/2013 (6 months ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: India, rent a womb, pregnancy, surrogate


MUMBAI, INDIA (Catholic Online) - India opened its borders to surrogacy for hire in 2007 and has enjoyed a boom in overseas requests, especially from homosexual couples which make up 40 percent of the clientele. The industry is known as fertility tourism and the country's plentiful supply of doctors, cheap medicine, and poor women has made India a leader in surrogacy.

Poor women allow children at the embryonic stage of development to be implanted in their wombs and carry them to term. This very process includes the always immoral procedure referred to as in vitro fertilization. The process results in what are euphemistically referred to as "spare embryos". These embryonic human persons are then killed.

People from around the world, especially from the United States, Britain, and Australia come to India for the procedure. According to the UN, the industry brings about $400 million a year into one of 3,000 fertility clinics across the country.

Locals say the money from allowing someone elses child to to develop in the rented womb allows the women used to buy homes, educate children, and generally enjoy a better quality of life.

However, government officials and activists are concerned about the obvious exploitation of women and their wombs. This is one more example of the commodification now involved in the conceiving and bearing of children. 

Clinics charge couples as much as $40,000 per baby, and pay about $6,500 to the mothers who actually carry the baby for the couple who rents the womb. Activists allege that women are forced into the industry by poverty and are forced to sign contracts they don't understand. It's exploitation of the poor by the rich they accuse.

In addition, there is no question that childbearing can be hard on the body. In May of 2012, Indian media carried the story of Premila Vaghela, 30, who died just days after giving birth to a baby for an American couple. Many surrogacy institutions have no insurance for women after delivery of the baby and leave them on their own for post-birth care.

Postpartum depression and other complications can go untreated, with dangerous results.

As of last July, homosexual and lesbian couples seeking surrogate mothers in India have been barred from obtaining visas and a new bill before India's Parliament purports to ensure that contracts are more fair and balanced and provide insurance and care for women following delivery.

This will probably make costs go up for couples looking to somehow rent a womb, but it will provide vital protections for women who seek surrogate parenting as a means of improving their financial situation, or evading the depredations of poverty.

Further, it fails to consider the fundamental moral problem attendant to the entire idea of renting a womb and using the bodies of women. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Catholic Church issued an excellent instruction entitled Donum Vitae (On Human Life).

In response to the question of surrogacy itself, it gives a clear response. 

IS "SURROGATE"* MOTHERHOOD MORALLY LICIT? No, for the same reasons which lead one to reject heterologous artificial fertilization: for it is contrary to the unity of marriage and to the dignity of the procreation of the human person. Surrogate motherhood represents an objective failure to meet the obligations of maternal love, of conjugal fidelity and of responsible motherhood; it offends the dignity and the right of the child to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up by his own parents; it sets up, to the detriment of families, a division between the physical, psychological and moral elements which constitute those families. * By "surrogate mother" the Instruction means: a) the woman who carries in pregnancy an embryo implanted in her uterus and who is genetically a stranger to the embryo because it has been obtained through the union of the gametes of "donors". She carries the pregnancy with a pledge to surrender the baby once it is born to the party who commissioned or made the agreement for the pregnancy. b) the woman who carries in pregnancy an embryo to whose procreation she has contributed the donation of her own ovum, fertilized through insemination with the sperm of a man other than her husband. She carries the pregnancy with a pledge to surrender the child once it is born to the party who commissioned or made the agreement for the pregnancy.


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