A four-million dollar industry. A means to building a family. To some it is a noble act, to others it defies morals. Surrogacy is sure a Pandora’s box of conflicting ideas. However, every child is a bundle of joy. Not only are children a matter of great pride to families, but it is a sign of hope that a legacy or lineage will continue in the days that lie ahead.
While one could consider adoption as a means towards building a family, the question of the child being genetically ‘yours’ could compel people to opt for surrogacy. Then again it leaves a question on the table — how wise could this be? Many celebrities have resorted to the alternative, citing various reasons. The birth of their children has triggered intense debates across the nation, however, the debaters fail to look into a larger perspective.
The concept of ‘wombs for rent’ has been a rather jaded topic for debates. Ancient religious texts of India quote several instances where the birth of a child remains a mystery. For example, Drona Achargya, the son of Sage Bharadwaj and the Guru of the Kauravas and Pandavas, was said to have sprung out of Bharadwaj. Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, was born upon the completion of a yajna. Could these be instances of surrogacy?
So what is surrogacy?
According to the Artificial Reproductive Technique (ART) guidelines, Surrogacy is defined as an arrangement in which a woman agrees to a pregnancy, achieved through assisted reproductive technology, in which neither of the gametes (ovum or sperm) belong to her or her husband, with the intention of carrying it to term and handing over the child to the person or persons for whom she is acting as surrogate.
Who could consider opting for Surrogacy?
According the Indian Law, couples could opt for surrogacy only due to either of the below reasons:
a) Female infertility or other medical issues including risky pregnancy
b) Same sex
c) Single parents
The participants in the procedure
A surrogate birth procedure involves four main groups of people namely – Lawyers, Fertility specialists, parent (s) and the surrogate. Some procedures also involve the participation of surrogacy agencies as well.
The role of a lawyer is rather crucial during such procedures. It could be noted that each nation follows a separate set of norms for surrogacy. The Indian Law, however, has undergone several amendments in this regard.
The ideal surrogate
A woman is at her best of health conditions between the ages of 24-30. He also states that women, who are known to have had successful pregnancies, are often considered as ideal surrogates.
Could a surrogate birth be less risky?
It has been stated women who are likely to undergo a risky pregnancy opt to build a family by means of a surrogate. However, the risk factors remain the same. “Every pregnancy is a unique case. There have been cases when a couple could not have child due to certain incompatible aspects between their sperm and ova. But when injected into the body of another person, apart from their own partners, the results proved otherwise,” said Dr .Harish Nair, Head of the Department of Obstretics and Gynaecology at Carithas Hospital, Kottayam
A surrogate mother is subject to all forms of pregnancy risks. This would include hypertension, low blood pressure, etc. This is bound to affect the child so growing in her womb.
Child custody is one of the major loopholes in the procedure. A few nations, which permit the practice of surrogacy, state that the ‘woman who carries the child is the legal mother.’ However, the laws of some other nations where the practice is permitted states that the child belongs to the biological parents.