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Friday, March 13, 2015

Surrogacy helps many eke out their livelihood

Lakshmi, a 25-year-old from the city, is due to deliver in a week. Her husband runs a small business, which gets him around `500 a day. They have two children and she says that to secure their future and provide them education, she chose surrogacy.

“My family and in-laws know about it and they are very supportive. My husband and kids visit me regularly at the centre,” said Ms Lakshmi, who is elated that she will soon rejoin her family.

Farheen, a single mother from the city took to surrogacy after her husband died. Though initially reluctant, she took up surrogacy due to her financial problems. She gave birth to a boy on Monday and the baby has already been given to his parents.

When asked if she would become a surrogate mother once again, Ms Farheen said, “If I get a chance, I will. This not only gives me financial support, but also makes me happy as I am helping someone who can’t have kids.”

Like Lakshmi and Farheen, most women who choose surrogacy are those who didn’t have a chance to complete their schooling and see this as a way out of their financial problems.

Though fertility clinics quote different figures, a surrogate mother earns   `2-3 lakh for renting out her womb. As per data collated from major fertility clinics across Hyderabad, currently, there are at least 100 pregnant surrogates in the city. Another 150 are willing to be surrogates.

A positive trend that doctors note is that, surrogate mothers and couples opting for commercial surrogacy are shedding the stigma attached to it.

“Currently, our centre has 80 carrying surrogates. The numbers have improved over the last few years. Reasons for this can be that availability of surrogates has improved and also that  awareness about the procedure has increased. The stigma has definitely come down,” said M. Divakar Reddy, managing director of Dr Padmaja Fertility Centre.

A couple from Kolkata opted for Hyderabad because of “affordability and higher success rates”. For a couple opting for surrogacy, it might cost any where between `5 and `10 lakh, depending on the clinic and availability of surrogates.

Activists call surrogacy exploitation of women

While the number of couples opting for commercial surrogacy and women willing to be surrogates on the rise, activists from the city say that surrogacy is an exploitative procedure and that there are only guidelines and no laws in place yet to protect their rights.

A 2012 study on commercial surrogacy taken up by the Delhi-based Sama, a resource group for women and health, stated that commercial surrogacy was a $400 million industry in India. Khalida Parveen, a women’s rights activist and member of the Welfare Party of India, said that she will not encourage women to go for surrogacy due to religious reasons and also because of the chances of exploitation. “Even if a woman is paid, the concept is exploitative by its very nature and is against motherhood,” said Ms Parveen.

Dr Samit Sekhar, executive director at Hyd-erabad’s Kiran Infertility Centre, however, brushed aside the fears. “There are very strict guidelines put down by the Indian Council of Medical Research. If these are flouted the clinic will be barred from providing services.”


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