Supporters of a new surrogacy bill in India say it would end the exploitation of women and protect the rights of children born through surrogacy. Opponents point out that the bill excludes all intended parents except married heterosexual couples and only allows for altruistic surrogacy, which they view as a violation of women’s rights.
In the mid-1990s, the international community pronounced prenatal sex selection via abortion an “act of violence against women” and “unethical.” At the same time, new developments in reproductive technology in the United States led to a method of sex selection before conception; its US inventor marketed the practice as “family balancing” and defended it with the rhetoric of freedom of choice. In Gender before Birth, Rajani Bhatia takes on the double standard of how similar practices in the West and non-West are divergently named and framed.
Bhatia’s extensive fieldwork includes interviews with clinicians, scientists, biomedical service providers, and feminist activists, and her resulting analysis extends both feminist theory on reproduction and feminist science and technology studies. She argues that we are at the beginning of a changing transnational terrain that presents new challenges to theorized inequality in reproduction, demonstrating how the technosciences often get embroiled in colonial gender and racial politics.
This roundup of the legal status of commercial surrogacy in India studies the effectiveness of bans, the responsive agility of surrogacy providers, and the ultimate impact on the human rights of gestational mothers.
Authored by Sharmila Rudrappa, a respected researcher and author in the field, it presents current arguments for and against criminalization. Exploring altruistic surrogacy, which is the only arrangement allowed in India at this time, the article ends with important questions on whether gestational mothers would be better protected if commercial transactions were toughly regulated rather than outlawed.
In case there were any doubts, this short overview of the regulation in India is a helpful crib sheet on the legal status of commercial surrogacy in the country. Three main conditions included in the bill include:
The intending couple must be Indian citizens and married for at least five years with at least one of them being infertile. The surrogate mother has to be a close relative who has been married and has had a child of her own.
No payment other than reasonable medical expenses can be made to the surrogate mother. The surrogate child will be deemed to be the biological child of the intending couple.
Central and state governments will appoint appropriate authorities to grant eligibility certificates to the intending couple and the surrogate mother. These authorities will also regulate surrogacy clinics.
“Can We See the Baby Bump Please?” is a detailed exploration of commercial surrogacy in India. It includes interviews with gestational mothers, providing rare and important glimpses into their lives and the contexts within which they make the decision to enter surrogacy relationships. The film was produced by Sama Resource Group for Women and Health, one of Surrogacy360’s global partners.
The global reach of medical tourism and commercial surrogacy spawns a range of clinics and practices across big cities and small towns in India. Anonymous, often with limited choice, woman’s labour is yet again pushed into the background. A whiff of immorality, the absence of regulation and the erasure of the surrogate’s experience collude to produce a climate of callousness. May we see the baby bump please? meets with surrogates, doctors, law firms,agents, and family in an attempt to understand the context of surrogacy in India.
Plus: Following a screening of “Can We See the Baby Bump Please?” at Harvard University in 2015, Judy Norsigian, co-founder and former executive director of Our Bodies Ourselves, and I. Glenn Cohen, faculty director of the Petrie-Flom Center and a professor at Harvard Law School, discussed the legal and human rights issues surrounding surrogacy and egg donation in a global context: