Sunday, May 31, 2015

[Nepal] - "Burden of surrogacy" by Gita Aravamudan

An interesting and challenging piece on "surrogacy" in Nepal.

The gay/single parent fertility business has shifted to Nepal. With no proper legislations in place, being a surrogate is not easy.

“These are the intended parents,” said the doctor. She was an impeccably dressed, youngish woman seated in front of a computer. On the screen was a picture of two men; one balding and slightly paunchy, the other younger and dressed in jeans.

“They are from Israel,” she said. “Their surrogate is a young Nepali girl. She is due next week. We’ll email them the moment the baby is born and they’ll come and collect it. They’ll get the formalities done, pick up their exit visa and leave. And yes, the baby will be an Israeli citizen. There is no problem about that.”

So simple!  Most of the “transaction” had been done over email and Skype. The men had come down just once, carrying the frozen embryo. That’s when they met their surrogate for the first and last time and signed the contract. They had been in constant touch with the clinic, but never interacted with the surrogate again because obviously they could not communicate with her. And maybe they didn’t want to.

This was in 2011 and I was researching for my book Baby Makers: The Story of Indian Surrogacy. I was at this upmarket clinic in Mumbai because I knew it was a preferred destination for gay couples from all over the world who wanted to have babies through surrogacy.

That day I learnt a lot. I learnt for instance that some countries like Israel ban same-sex couples from hiring surrogates in their own country, but recognise children born through surrogacy in other countries. I also learnt that the sperm could come from one country, the eggs from another, the IVF could be done elsewhere and the frozen embryo could be shifted across continents to be implanted in surrogates in India.

And why India? Because India was cheap, the medical facilities were very good and clinics like the one I was sitting in had a large supply of young, healthy surrogates on call. More importantly, in India, there was no law and the entire fertility business was only regulated by the guidelines passed by the Medical Council. And these guidelines had nothing to say about same-sex parents.

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