July 3, 2022

Outsourcing embryos in India

A recent Vice documentary explores the well-trodden path to shady surrogacy practices in India.

A recent Vice documentary for HBO, Outsourcing Embryos, explored the well-trodden path to shady surrogacy practices in India. Proposed legislation has languished in a Parliamentary committee since 2010 so there is little effective regulation. Investigative journalist Gianna Toboni described what she found in an interview with New York Magazine.

She says that American clients are often unaware of exploitative practices:

There are cases where American couples feel a little strange about what is happening, and the ethics of it, but turn a blind eye because they don’t want to pay the higher rates in the States. Many couples don’t want to know what’s behind the scenes, they want their baby fast, and they want it done cheaply. At the same time, there are couples who have an ongoing relationship with the surrogate and are very involved in making sure she’s making a choice and not simply being exploited.

Although a broker offered to sell her a baby over lunch when she posed as a woman desperate for a child, Ms Toboni did not actually witness sub-standard medical treatment. However, the picture she paints is desolate:

At the same time, there’s no limit to how many embryos can be implanted. Doctors have been known to insert more than one or two embryos to increase the chances that the woman will get pregnant without losing time or money. The commissioning couple may only want one baby, so sometimes, when more than one baby is born, the couple isn’t told, even though it’s their genetic offspring. As you can see in the documentary, I was offered one of these babies from the black market.

There are rumours of orphanages with “white” children for sale, the surplus production of surrogate mothers who had twins. 

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