Laws around the world vary - even within countries - when it comes to surrogate motherhood. Suffice to say, it's prohibited in many parts of the first world, which has led to a boom in third world services, particularly in India.
Made in India
Womb Outsourcing in India is big business. Some estimate the "Reproductive Tourism" market to be worth more than $500m each year.
Surrogate mothers are attached to clinics, which manage the process of finding donor parents and transact fees in the region of $6-10,000, passing on less than half to the mothers, themselves.
Even when surrogate parenting is legal in the first world, costs can be prohibitive (around $80,000 in total in parts of the US), so this makes India very attractive.
Critics say that this is financial exploitation, plain and simple. On the other hand, Indian surrogates claim benefits. The money is far more than they would make in a lifetime, which they argue is far less exploitive than doing hard labour in an unsafe factory for $2/day with little hope of a better future. Furthermore, they are relatively well taken care of at the clinic, where they are forced to live in dormitories for the duration of their pregnancy.
Nevertheless, there are extreme stigmas attached to surrogacy within India. If relatives found out what they were doing, the consequences could be severe. Accordingly, the women often lie about what they are up to, saying that they are moving to a new city to follow work.
Not withstanding the moral implications of all this, there have been some peculiar legal challenges. In one case in particular, a Japanese couple got divorced before their surrogate baby was born. When the wife refused to accept the child, the father tried to claim custody, but a law in India forbidding single fathers from adopting put the child's status in limbo. Without a passport, the child could not leave the country. Without legal parents, it was orphaned.
Is this an immoral activity?
What do you think...?
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