How surrogacy in hopping from celeb cases – India Today in
July 7, 2013 | UPDATED 11:16 IST
How surrogacy is hopping across to the mainstream, with a little help from celebrity cases
Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan cannot be faulted for raising walls of privacy over the birth of his baby boy, but that hasn’t stopped people from talking about the trend that baby Khan has kicked off. Surrogacy, an alternative reproductive option that was considered a last resort and mostly a hush-hush choice of couples, is slowly hopping across to the mainstream.
Some of the credit for making people less inhibited about discussing surrogacy must go to Aamir Khan and his wife KiranRao. They spoke candidly about their baby, Azad, who they had through a gestational carrier. “Surrogacy is slowly becoming a popular trend in India. Top quality equipment, favourable pricing and a hassle-free ‘legal’ process has made it ideal for couples who fail to conceive naturally,” says Dr. Rita Bakshi, senior IVF Consultant at Delhi’s International Fertility Centre.
“Many people might look up to celebs, but while planning something so sensitive, they don’t need a celebrity approval. In fact, many couples and families are dealing with ‘what will people say’ quite well,” says Dr. TripatChaudhary, senior consultant at Fortis Hospital. With two children, Aryan,15 and Suhana, 13 there are many questions on why Bollywood’s star couple opted for a third child. That the Khans alone can answer, but there are several reasons why couples opt for surrogacy later in life. “Sometimes parents realise the joys of a big family. Besides, children bring families closer,” says Dr. Bakshi. In some cases, as Dr. ArchanaDhawan Bajaj, consultant in infertility at Nurture Clinic points out, women do not want to go through the childbearing process. Surrogacy, the practice of gestating a child for another couple or individual, involves the use of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) – a group of technologies that assist in conception or the carrying of pregnancy to term. “Surrogacy is like a win-win situation for infertile parents and also poor surrogate women,” said VivekKohli, director of Wyzax surrogacy consultancy.
It is no small wonder that the market has flourished, and grown systematically. Some clinics have tie-ups with online portals that advertise commercial surrogacy and scout for parents across the globe. Then, there are agencies which make the whole process a smoother one by organising everything under one roof. This is true even of Maharashtra and Gujarat which some have described as global surrogacy hubs. Hospitals and clinics in Mumbai freely advertise that anyone can have a child through surrogacy.
Foreigners are attracted to India because it is cheaper than in the West to have a surrogate child. The ‘package’ for surrogacy can vary between Rs.8,00,000 to Rs.15,00,000, including the cost of doctors, legal fees, antenatal care, surrogate compensation, egg donor, drugs and consumables, and IVF costs. The opposition to surrogacy has been strong and King Khan’s case proved this.
Women activists, though, assert that surrogacy can never be a step forward for women. “Renting a womb is exploitative. It is no different from prostitution in terms of the contracts involved,” said JyotsanaChatterjee, director, Joint Women’s Programme.
According to Kishwar Desai, award winning novelist and author who has researched on commercial surrogacy in India, said, “The whole business of surrogacy is just a get rich quick scheme benefiting only the doctors, lawyers and agencies, alike. There are no laws in India when it comes to assistant reproductive technologies. Nobody really cares for what happens to the surrogate mothers once they deliver these babies.”
AmitKharkhanis, a leading lawyer working in this field, says that while regulation is definitely needed, more laws are not the answer and self-regulation had to be done by everyone concerned. “The Medical Council of India should come up with protocols on surrogacy. Merely having a law without involving the stake holders will not make any difference,” he said.
Even as Shah Rukh and Gauri Khan’s third child continues making waves, Bollywood’s power couple Aamir Khan and KiranRao continue to lead blessed lives after Azad Rao Khan was born to them via a surrogate mother in December 2011.
It was due to medical complications and a miscarriage that KiranRao suffered that the couple went for IVF route. “This baby is especially dear to us because he was born to us after a long wait and some difficulty. Due to medical complications, we were advised to have a baby through IVF-surrogacy, and we feel very grateful to the Almighty that all has gone well. We are humbled by the greatness of God, the miracles of science, and the kindness and love of our families and friends in being there for us while respecting our privacy,” the couple had said after the baby’s birth.