February 23, 2024

Surrogacy: profession or exploitation?

The small Gujarat town of Anand has become a
major surrogacy hub for “reproductive tourists” from around the world. The
Akanksha Infertility Clinic, run by Dr Nayana Patel and her husband Hitesh,
says that 167 surrogate mothers have given birth successfully to 216 babies
since 2003.

Indian women acting as surrogates at Akaksha
live for the duration of their pregnancies in one of two “confinement homes”.
The facilities are very basic, with three beds to a cramped room with peeling
walls and only plastic chairs or the floor for seating. The women are only
permitted to leave the premises for hospital check-ups, and are only allowed to
see their families on Sundays.

Hitesh Patel explains that this is to protect
the babies they are carrying. “If they stay at home, we don’t know what they’re
doing. They might be working. Are they eating a balanced diet and taking proper
rest?” He claims that the surrogates enjoy staying at the homes. “For the women
it’s like a paid holiday.” And according to the London Times, the women are
also protected from the “questioning glances of curious neighbours who would
regard their growing bellies as shameful.”

The surrogates are generally from lower castes from
poor villages around Anand. They can receive the equivalent of more than 10
years’ salary. ~ London
Sunday Times, May 9

Jared Yee