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Surrogate mothers in India sought by infertile couples in nascent industry

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 4th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Infertile couples, unable to bear children of their own, have increasingly turned to the nation of India, whose booming industry of surrogate mothers has become more widespread. India is now home to approximately 1,000 surrogacy centers.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Surrogacy is now an estimated $2.3 billion business. It's estimated that 25,000 couples visit India for surrogacy services annually, resulting in more than 2,000 births. In India, women typically rent their wombs for between $16,000 and $32,000.

"And the real figures can be much higher," Professor of Social Work Eric Blyth told Al Jazeera. In a study recently published in Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, researchers found that there has been "an increasing demand in the number of couples registering children to foreign surrogates" from the United Kingdom.

Australia is another major source of demand for Indian surrogate mothers. A study found that there were 200 surrogacy births in India to Australian couples, compared with 179 in 2011 and just 86 in 2010.

There have been "different media reports suggesting that around half of overseas commissioning parents using Indian surrogates are from Australia," according to Dr Marilyn Crawshaw, an independent researcher and practitioner in the U.K.

Financial rewards are the biggest draw for India's surrogate mothers. The going rate for "womb rentals": are $16,000 and $32,000, a very lucrative fee for the nation's poor. Poverty remains widespread in India, with a national annual income averaging $1,527 per person. It's estimated that 29.8 percent of the population lives below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day.

Other surrogate mothers have different motives. "Certainly there is a monetary component, but there is also a strong desire to assist another family," Dr. Shivani Sachdev Gour, the director of Surrogacy Centre India in New Delhi says.

"I wanted to help my husband," one surrogate mother says. After getting her family's consent, she "gave birth to a baby girl for an Australian couple, and gave happiness to their family and my family."

Helping one's own family is also a major motivating factor. "Everybody works for their family and the wellbeing of their children," another surrogate mom says. "My mother also works, but as a surrogate mother. She not only helps my family, but also helps other families. She brings smiles in the life of others."

While the idea of lending one's womb to another woman may be unacceptable to many Indians,  more women - both single and married - are choosing to be surrogates.

The teaching of the Catholic Church on surrogacy is clear. It is the immoral use of another as an object. The Catholic Catechism summarizes that teaching in this paragraph:

"Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child's right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses' "right to become a father and a mother only through each other" (CCC 2376). 

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