‘Ban on commercial surrogacy must be lifted’

HYDERABAD: Last Saturday, Sai Kiran Infertility Centre in Banjara Hills was raided by the Hyderabad Police Task Force team, who found at least 45 surrogate mothers confined to the building. Apparently, the infertility centre was collecting upto `30 lakh from each customer, while paying a tenth of that amount to the surrogate mothers.

In March, the Central government in its affidavit to the Supreme Court stated that it does not support commercial surrogacy. Besides, it said that surrogacy is limited to infertile couples in India and not to foreigners. Through Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill-2014, the Centre intends to strictly regulate surrogacies.

So are we ready for a Bill that allows foreigners to have babies through surrogacy? Yes, says PadmaShri Dr Kamini Rao, a pioneer of ART in India. “The money that is paid to a surrogate is a mere compensation for the loss of wages over the period of nine months, when she cannot engage in any strenuous occupation. The monetary compensation should not be considered as a price for the womb, but as a step taken towards the health of the mother and baby”, opines Dr Kamini Rao.

The common procedures performed as part of ART include:
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): This infertility treatment involves harvesting and fertilisation of female ovum outside the body and the subsequent placement of the embryos into the uterus.

Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT):
This fertility treatment is similar to IVF, except that the harvested eggs are not fertilised in the laboratory. Instead, the ova and sperm are placed directly into the fallopian tubes, where fertilisation will hopefully occur.

Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT):
This procedure is similar to both IVF and GIFT. With ZIFT, the egg is fertilised with sperm in the laboratory, forming a zygote, but is not allowed to develop into an embryo. The zygote is then placed in the fallopian tubes.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI):
This involves the injection of a single sperm directly into an ovum (mature egg). Later, similar to IVF, the embryo is placed into the uterus. “The ban on commercial surrogacy has been enforced in August 2016. Ever since, reproductive tourism in India has been hit hard. Women should not be compelled into surrogacy nor should they resort to surrogacy as a profession.

However, if a woman volunteers to share the joy of parenthood with someone who is denied of this, government should not stop her. If many impoverished women are able to carve a better livelihood by resorting to surrogacy, to ensure quality living for their children, provide them with education etc, it is grossly unfair to take out this choice from her”, points out Dr Kamini Rao.

The Union government must appoint a regulatory authority that strictly enforces the norms related to surrogacy, which would prevent quacks from exploiting gullible women into renting their wombs, says Dr Kamini Rao.Given the ‘ingenuity’ of middlemen in working around the rules to suit themselves, will the ART Bill become a reality? Only time will tell.