Controversial essay on Surrogate Mothers – Ethical or Non-Ethical. Surrogacy and IVF are arrangements through which an infertile couple can acquire a child by involving another woman to carry the pregnancy to the term and hand over the child to the childless couple after delivery.
Traditionally the surrogate mother is usually a close relative who is looked after and taken care of and there is no financial obligation involved. However with the times changing and relatives not readily available to suffer the discomfort and pain involved, the services of surrogate mothers have assumed pecuniary overtones. The recent case of a poor woman advertising the services of her womb, in return for Rs. 50,000, has raised the question of ethics involved.
Nirmala, a 30 year old woman from Chandigarh planned to ‘rent out her womb’ and the reports highlighted by the media were received with dismay. Her unconventional plans to raise money for the treatment of her husband raised many eyebrows and the legal, social and ethical ramifications of the latest technologies being introduced were questioned.
The fact that surrogate motherhood was as old as the Mahabharata and Bible, when surrogate mothers got impregnated through sexual intercourse, is being overlooked. The problem of infertility is a serious one in our society and the social stigma involved include abandoning wives. The economic pressures that entail should indeed find welcome support through IVF.
The IVF method comprises artificial insemination involving the husband’s or denors sperm and the ova from the wife or surrogate mother is used for fertilization. The resulting embryos are then implanted in the woman’s or surrogate mother’s womb. The techniques today have in-vitro fertilization being used to achieve pregnancy in a petri dish.
Since the birth of the first test tube baby in 1978 there have been demands for promulgation of laws to solve the disputes which were likely to crop up as derivatives of modern techniques. The infertility related private health care systems have become one big money squeezing industry which is totally
unregulated and based on profitability rather than need. Experts have clearly opined “As in other situations these health services are capitalizing on cultural demands and on people’s poverty.”
There have been several cases of disputes and legal battles, highly publicized by the media, between a widow, who wanted a child from her husband’s frozen sperm, and her step children, surrogate mothers and couples who had a mutual agreement before pregnancy to deliver the child to the couple without any if’s and but’s. What has the law to say if the surrogate mother refuses to part with the child, ‘her’ child, carried in her womb, nurtures during pregnancy and delivered naturally with all the effort and pain involved. Even her body has suffered due to this. If the women has used her resources, in this case her womb and body, to earn money for an honorable cause like Nirmala, what has the law to say about this?