Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sixty Minutes – Channel Nine – Liz Hayes: Two Men and Two Babies

It used to be that "Delhi belly" meant something less than pleasant was on its way. Well not any longer.

It could now mean you've made the ultimate decision, and hired a womb. An Indian woman whose taken on the job of giving birth to your child.

India has now become a major player in the baby-making business providing everything you need. Donor sperm, eggs and wombs-for-rent can all be found under the one fertility clinic roof.

I travelled to India to meet up with Peter and Trevor, a gay couple from Melbourne who had made the investment.

Nine months before they'd begun the pregnancy process after purchasing eggs from a donor and engaging the services of a surrogate, at a Mumbai fertility clinic.

They're now the proud, genetic fathers of twin girls.

None of this is new, of course. In America, for hundreds of thousands of dollars you can do the same. In India, it's much cheaper and there are fewer rules about who gets to be a parent this way.

Making babies is now something anyone can do. Single men and women, gay and straight, combinations of all kinds can sign up today!

And if you're a man, you don't even have to turn up to make a "deposit". You can courier your frozen sperm to the clinic and it will take care of the rest.

As long as you make the trip nine months later, and the bills are paid, that little bundle of joy is yours.

Yes, yes, it is the ultimate Indian outsourcing industry.

Women, so many of them, are prepared to sell their eggs or carry someone else's child for a fee. And there are plenty of banks of sperm. But, if you've ever been to India, it's not entirely a surprise.

Poverty is so very real for many families that when the chance to make more money in nine months than most could make in nineteen years comes along, it's a no-brainer.

The surrogates I met are young mothers with children of their own. The money they earn will make an enormous difference to their lives, although I got the feeling that giving birth to babies for gay couples wasn't high on their agenda.

And their husbands took some convincing, too. Many didn't believe pregnancy was possible without sexual contact. But, once the birds and the bees of the test tube tango was explained, all was well.

Still, surrogacy is often done in secrecy. Women don't usually want others to know and are afraid of the shame they may suffer for doing so. So they pretend the baby they're carrying is theirs and then, when it fails to come home with them, claim that the worst has happened. The baby has died.

It's a complicated and emotionally charged issue for everyone.

Dip your toe into the argument about the rights and wrongs of children brought into the world this way and prepare for a battle royal. I'm already suffering a nasty chaffing from the fence I know I'm straddling, but really, I don't know if this is a good or bad thing.

Plenty will tell you that making babies this way doesn't lessen their commitment or love for their children. Quite the opposite.

Perhaps it's because it's a business, I feel this unease. I'm not sure.

What I am sure of is it's a reality … and it isn't going away.

[Link: Original Article]

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