Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas recently announced on their Instagram that they had welcomed their first baby via surrogacy and this sparked a lot of hullabaloo on social media about exploitation and reproductive rights. This article will help you understand all you wanted to know about surrogacy.
What is the surrogacy process?
The embryo is created by combining the egg of the intended mother or egg donor with sperm from the intended father or sperm donor. This can be done through in vitro fertilization (IVF) or artificial insemination.
If the intended parents use their own egg and sperm, this is known as autologous surrogacy. With this method, no embryo transfer procedure is used. If they don’t supply their own eggs and sperm, they use the services of an egg donor and a sperm donor who will both provide these gametes to create an embryo that will be transferred to the uterus of the surrogate mother. This method is called allogenic surrogacy therapy.
The fertilized egg is then placed in the uterus of the surrogate mother, who will carry the pregnancy.
Who is a surrogate?
A surrogate mother is a woman who carries and delivers a baby to another person or couple. She has no genetic relationship to the child and carries it for someone else to give birth to. Surrogate mothers may receive compensation and may opt to give up all parental rights once their service is complete.
One of the most expensive things you’ll have to do for your family finds a gestational carrier. There is plenty of caring and trustworthy agencies that will send out a request for potential surrogates based on what kind of thing you’re looking for. Once you’ve found someone, hiring them is as easy as filling out paperwork, providing medical/genetic information, and agreeing to set up a financial agreement.
In some cases, the surrogate mother can also be a family member or a close friend who may agree to this process for no financial gain. Surrogacy is not regulated by any government agency.
Surrogacy, a boon
Surrogacy is a boon to women who cannot conceive. It provides an opportunity for infertile couples to have a baby. It can also be a boon for single mothers or gay couples who want to have a child without all the hassles of surrogacy.
It can be beneficial for both parties as surrogates are compensated for their time and effort, and the commissioning mother is able to spend time with her family rather than being pregnant.
How You Can Use Surrogacy For Treatment
Many fertility packages with surrogates include all the necessary screenings and monitoring for both, as well as an extra FET (frozen embryo transfer) if the initial transfer was unsuccessful. They do not include services of agencies who locate surrogates, legal services, obstetrical services, or compensation or benefits to these gestational carriers.
The legality of Surrogacy in India
The Indian Parliament recently passed two acts around Indian women’s reproductive rights and health– the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill and the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill. This aims to regulate and supervise assisted reproductive technology (ART) clinics and surrogacy and curb unethical practices related to issues like sex selection and exploitation of surrogate mothers by imposing both monetary penalties and jail terms for violations.
Transnational surrogacy was banned in India in 2015, but Assisted Reproductive Techniques and domestic commercial surrogacy continue through agents and private clinics.
The new laws in the bill state that couples seeking surrogacy should be married for at least five years. The couple has to be heterosexual and includes a man between the ages of 26 to 55 years and a woman of 25 to 50 years of age. Both have to be Indians and should have no biological, adopted, or surrogate children (unless the child is mentally or physically challenged or has a life-threatening disorder).
The criteria for anyone opting to be a surrogate mother states that:
- The woman in question must be married (at least once in her life) and should have her own child.
- She should be between 25 to 35 years of age and a close relative of the couple opting for surrogacy.
- Any woman agreeing to be a surrogate cannot be a surrogate more than once in her life and at the time she should be certified for medical and psychological fitness. (Source)
However, these laws exclude same-sex couples or those who are not legally married and hence are not comprehensive enough. It also does not help couples who want to start a family earlier. It also insists on proof of one partner being infertile in order to initiate the surrogacy process.
Hence the laws in India are not inclusive enough.
Also read How to talk about male infertility with your partner