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Surrogacy in India is estimated to be a $2.3 billion industry, but surrogate mothers are paid less than a tenth of what they get in the US. The mushrooming of IVF clinics, absence of a regulatory framework, and the availability of poor women willing to rent out their wombs has made India an attractive option for foreigners seeking a surrogate child. Several questions have been raised over the alleged exploitation of surrogate mothers, and over the need to safeguard their, the child’s, as well as the commissioning parents’ rights.
The Indian government will not allow commercial surrogacy that involves exchange of money for anything apart from paying for the medical expenses for the mother and child. Thus, it will allow only ‘altruistic surrogacy’ — which, officials say, could in most cases involve a close blood relative.
In an affidavit to the Supreme Court, the government now says it will henceforth “prohibit and penalise commercial surrogacy services” so as to protect the “dignity of Indian womanhood”, and to prevent “trafficking in human beings” and the “sale of surrogate child”. Only needy infertile Indian couples would be able to opt for surrogacy of the altruistic kind.