India: Surrogate Motherhood Becoming Big Business

Women like these at a clinic in Anand can earn much more as surrogate mothers than at normal jobs.

An enterprise known as reproductive outsourcing is a new but rapidly expanding business in India. Clinics that provide surrogate mothers for foreigners say they have recently been inundated with requests from the United States and Europe, as word spreads of India’s mix of skilled medical professionals, relatively liberal laws and low prices.

Commercial surrogacy, which is banned in some states and some European countries, was legalized in India in 2002. The cost comes to about $25,000, roughly a third of the typical price in the United States. That includes the medical procedures; payment to the surrogate mother, which is often, but not always, done through the clinic; plus air tickets and hotels for two trips to India (one for the fertilization and a second to collect the baby).

“People are increasingly exposed to the idea of surrogacy in India; Oprah Winfrey talked about it on her show,” said Dr. Kaushal Kadam at the Rotunda clinic in Mumbai. Just an hour earlier she had created an embryo for Mr. Gher and his partner with sperm from one of them (they would not say which) and an egg removed from a donor just minutes before in another part of the clinic.

The clinic, known more formally as Rotunda — The Center for Human Reproduction, does not permit contact between egg donor, surrogate mother or future parents. The donor and surrogate are always different women; doctors say surrogates are less likely to bond with the babies if there is no genetic connection.

There are no firm statistics on how many surrogacies are being arranged in India for foreigners, but anecdotal evidence suggests a sharp increase.

Rudy Rupak, co-founder and president of PlanetHospital, a medical tourism agency with headquarters in California, said he expected to send at least 100 couples to India this year for surrogacy, up from 25 in 2007, the first year he offered the service.

“Every time there is a success story, hundreds of inquiries follow,” he said.

Via NY Times