Outsourcing Motherhood

Scores of impoverished Indian women are selling their services as childbearers to foreign couples who either cannot, or don’t want to, bear their own children, reports the Daily Mail.

Using an Indian surrogate mother is less expensive and less complicated than paying a Western mother for the same services — and in some cases, the surrogate offers her own eggs as well.

The number of surrogate mothers in India has nearly doubled in the past three years, while surrogacy agencies are springing up to handle the caseload.

Indian doctors are helping make the arrangements, even setting up a bungalow for surrogate mothers with a cook, a cleaner and English classes, according to India’s Daily News and Analysis.

They say becoming a surrogate for childless couples is a “noble deed.” But other doctors disagree, fearing the women are being forced to bear children for the sake of money.

They also warn that the social stigma of carrying another man’s child could damage their relationships with their husbands and in society.

The practice, unregulated up till now in India, brings with it a host of legal and medical concerns.

Soon Indian legislators will vote on whether to streamline the surrogate process while dealing with post-natal health care for the surrogate mother and the baby, as well as the legal and financial obligation of a “client” in case of a miscarriage or a surrogate mother’s death during childbirth, reports IBN-CNN.

Surrogate mothers aren’t limited to India.

Parents living in South Australia will be permitted to use a surrogate mother in the region under new legislation.

According to Adelaide Now, the practice has been legalized after reports that couples were traveling to the Australian Capital Territory to have it done.

Flaws in the British system governing surrogate arrangements were never clearer than in a recent controversy over a surrogate mother who deliberately misled two client families to believe she had miscarried, only to keep the babies for herself.

The couples took the woman to court, where the judge ruled in their favor, reports the Guardian.

The judge also faulted the agencies that made the arrangements, urging them to make better background checks on the emotional and psychological states of surrogate mothers.

Under British law, surrogacy agreements are not legally binding.

The mother may change her mind and keep the baby, forcing the client couple to meet her in court.


“India takes outsourcing to a new level as women rent out wombs to foreigners”
Daily Mail (U.K.), November 10, 2007

“Judge warns agencies after surrogate mother dupes couples to keep babies” Guardian (U.K.), October 31, 2007

“Proposal to legalise surrogacy”
Adelaide Now (Australia), November 14, 2007

“Now, a hostel for surrogate mothers!”
Daily News & Analysis (India), November 5, 2007

“Govt plans new laws to curb rent-a-womb rackets”
CNN-IBN (India), November 5, 2007

2 thoughts on “Outsourcing Motherhood

  1. I think that there are many issues tied into cases of surrogacy, especially international surrogates from developing countries who are catering to Western clients. Currently the emerging industry of baby farming in India is unregulated, and there is no law demanding the quality of care given to the carriers. What happens when market forces cause competing baby farms to undercut each other in prices and cut costs? Who sets the standards for donors, such as age, health and emotional state?
    We are currently hosting a discussion of international surrogacy at http://www.TheIssue.com and I invite you to lend your voice to the debate.