Bioethics News

How well are Indian surrogates treated?

Isha Devi, a 30-year-old surrogate mother in New Delhi / Julie McCarthy/NPR   

A dramatic report from NPR highlights exploitation in India’s surrogacy industry. The government has banned all foreign surrogacy, but doctors counter that this forces women to give up a chance to make money.

“Pregnancy is not a big deal for them,” says Dr Anoop Gupta, the head of a major fertility clinic in New Delhi. He told NPR that he looks for “simple” women. Once he made the mistake of engaging an educated engineer who gave him nothing but headaches.

“Even if they don’t [participate in] surrogacy, they will get pregnant themselves,” he says. “They do not use contraception. So they get pregnant, pregnant, pregnant! That’s it! They are thoughtless people. Now if they get an opportunity to help somebody who is childless, and they help themselves with the money they can never think of in their lifetime — nobody has been exploited.”

Amongst the critics is Manasi Mishra, of the Research Division at the Centre for Social Research in New Delhi. In her opinion, the surrogacy industry  is “run by haves, to exploit the have-nots.” In short, she says, “This pregnancy is precious, the mother is not.”

After studying about 200 cases, Ms Mishra found a number of problems

  • Women who were never paid.
  • Women who were promised a natural birth but were given a Caesarean.
  • Some couples commissioned more than one surrogate to guarantee a pregnancy. The unwanted baby was aborted chemically – and the woman thoguht that she had had a miscarriage.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.