Shailaja Chandra, former Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Chairman of the Public Grievances Commission and Appellate Authority under the Delhi Right to Information Act, says: “A poor woman can earn anything between Rs1-3 lakh from surrogacy, and with debts and growing expenditures hanging over her head, she agrees or is forced to agree. In most cases, it’s actually the women’s relatives and middlemen who compel them to go through it.”
She adds that the myths around being childless and the reluctance to consider adoption need to be addressed through proper awareness campaigns, and adoption promoted as a first choice. “Not only is that humane, but is also less exploitative on the surrogate, who has to be bolstered with hormones to prepare her to accept the embryo.”
Chandra also believes that IVF centres need to be registered. “The process should be open only to Indians or if one partner is of Indian origin. We must not permit foreigners to enter into surrogacy arrangements because it is akin to using Indian women to make a takeaway baby for them. While foreigners are generous in looking after the woman’s health and nutrition, problems of citizenship, and fulfilling the responsibilities attached to accepting the infant, even if it suffers from physical or mental deficiencies, can arise.”
About how it can be checked if the ban is being upheld once the Bill is passed, Chandra says, “Such a law, if made, will remain like so many other laws — unimplementable. There is no machinery to police what happens between two or three people by mutual consent; desperate couples and future surrogates’ families will find a way of doing it secretly. Can a woman who leaves for her native village for nine months be taken to task? It’s tough to push such laws. Do you think kidney transplant rackets have stopped and all such transplants are altruistic?”
Proposed surrogacy law: Does it address all concerns?
Guests: Shailaja Chandra, Former Secretary, Health and Family welfare, Govt of India ; Dr. Nayana Patel, Medical Director, Akanksha Research and Medical Institute, Anand, Gujarat ; Sunita Reddy, Associate Professor, Centre for Social Medicine, JNU ; Hari. G. Ramasubramanian, Chief Consultant, Indian Surrogacy Law Centre, Chennai ; Sushmi Dey, Assistant Editor, The Times of India.
Anchor: Girish Nikam
Air date: Aug 25, 2016