The Indian parliament has started a debate on the passing of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2019, which seeks to ban commercial surrogacy while allowing ‘altruistic’ surrogacy for Indian married couples. The proposed law has already received the support of the lower house and passed with a thumping majority in July this year.
Commercial surrogacy has been widespread across India and while those lobbying for and against have once again braced for heated debate — here are 10 facts about the controversial practice in India (and the business behind it).
- The Indian Government legalised surrogacy in 2005. Before that surrogacy was completely an unregulated market. But, in an attempt to boost medical tourism, the government decided to frame a proper law to provide an added option to adoption for aspiring parents, infertile couples, single parents and homosexual couples.
- What was initially a ray of hope for infertile families has since turned into a business of shocking magnitude. India’s commercial surrogacy market has an estimated worth of $2.3 billion.
- According to a UN report there are approximately 3,000 fertility clinics operating across India.
- For a brief period of two years (2013-2015), the Indian government allowed the import of embryos claiming that the decision would provide cost-effective treatments to the infertile couples living outside the country, including surrogacy. However, the decision backfired and government had to ban it against a backdrop of rising cases of embryo smuggling.
- The Indian Parliamentary Panel noted that there were 2,000 surrogacy births in India in three years (2014-2017) which is a paltry figure for a country with a population over 1.3 billion.
- While the prices vary, an estimated average payment to a commercial surrogate mother is about $4,500.
- However according to a private study, the cost for the full procedure ranges between $10,000 and $35,000.
- Local fertility issues aside, India, alongside Thailand, has attracted a huge number of surrogacy clients from abroad. With hopeful parents coming from countries including the US, Britain, Australia, and Israel.
- A 2013 survey showed 68% of surrogate mothers in Delhi and 78% in Mumbai, were housemaids by profession.
- In the meantime, according to the Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India, an estimated 22 to 33 million couples of reproductive age suffer from infertility across the country.