Now, there is little doubting that any reasonable government ought to concern itself at some level with the ethics of procreation, especially given the power equations at play in a contract of surrogacy. But is a complete proscription on commercial surrogacy a neutral position to take?
Framed by the death of a 30-year-old gestational mother in India in 2011, and the contract she signed agreeing to life support in order to protect the fetus in the event of life-threatening injury in the third trimester, this opinion article provides a critique of the Indian government’s recent ban on all commercial surrogacy.
Suhrith Parthasarathy comments on the requirements articulated in the new law — for intended parents, gestational mothers, and the money exchanged in between — highlighting flawed assumptions made by the bill and its “violation” of the constitutional pledge of equal treatment.
This long article is well worth the read. It follows a group of gestational mothers in India, providing unusually deep insights into their lives, the contexts that frame their decisions, and their experiences within surrogacy arrangements and after. It also features conversations with the clinics and intended parents that hire gestational mothers, and touches upon the controversial effort to ban the practice in India.
Critics say it is unlikely that banning foreign surrogacy clients will protect poor Indian women or end the practice. For one thing, surrogacy remains legal for heterosexual Indian couples. For another, transnational surrogacy is notorious for its elaborate work-arounds. When the Indian home ministry abruptly banned gay foreign surrogacy clients in 2012, Indian fertility clinics shipped Indian surrogates across the border to Nepal. When Nepal also banned transnational surrogacy in 2015, as did Thailand, industry insiders told me they believed that Indian surrogates were being rerouted to African countries instead. They also said that the ban will merely drive the practice underground.