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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

No law to regulate booming industry

NEW DELHI: The surrogacy industry in India is tipped to be 2.3 billion dollars annually with nearly 20,000 such clinics operating across the country. However, there is no law to regulate them.

The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, which seeks to regulate surrogacy and in-vitro fertilization (IVF), has been pending for the last five years. Experts say only the 'non-binding' guidelines from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) regulate the running of
fertility clinics.

In the report published in international journal Bioethical Inquiry, researchers state that debates around the ethics of surrogacy are preceded by those relating to organ donation and transplantation.

"Reproductive medicine, like organ transplantation, has been debated in the context of neo-liberal capitalistic medical enterprise and complicity in the commodification of body partswith market demands

. However, unlike organ donation, which is one-time process, reproductive medicine involves the use of eggs and sperm which are regenerative," they saidd, highlighting the urgency of a law to regulate the practice.

Researchers argue that because women are capable of multiple pregnancies, this allows repeated surrogacy, thereby posing newer ethical challenges.

Dr Abha Mazumdar, head of the IVF centre at Sir Ganga Ram hospital, said most unethical practices in commercial surrogacy involves foreigners. "An agent mediating in a property deal gets 10-20% commission. But in surrogacy, agents who bring surrogates get more than 100% commission," she said. The IVF expert said foreigner couples should not be allowed to opt for commercial surrogacy in India.

The UK and some states in Australia permit only altruistic surrogacy, and surrogacy is not legalized in Scandinavian countries and other countries such as Germany and Spain. Most childless couples from these countries come to India.

Ranjana Kumari, director of Centre for Social Research, said, there is need to rein in fertility clinics fleecing patients

"Absence of a law has led to mushrooming of centres exploiting vulnerable couples and pushing poor women into surrogacy."


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