Mother Jones on Surrogacy Centers in India

Is employing Indian woman from poor families to carry children for the well-to-do a form of exploitation?

Check out this article on the Mother Jones website:

Then how to view it? Oprah showcased Jennifer and Kendall, a childless couple who had tried everything else but couldn’t afford the American surrogacy system. With Patel’s help, Jennifer became a mom, and an Indian woman was lifted from poverty—a transaction part business and part sisterhood. Yet it’s a setup fraught with all the ambiguities of the global labor market: When you buy sweatshop sneakers it allows someone’s family to eat. But you also know you’re getting a bargain only because the people making the shoes are poor.

Consider this passage:

“Is it work? Is it charity?” Amit Karkhanis, a prominent surrogacy lawyer whose clients include Mumbai’s largest surrogacy provider, asks me rhetorically over $8 coffees at a swank hotel. Cocking one eyebrow, he offers his own opinion: “Surrogacy is a type of employment, plain and simple. Foreigners are not coming here for their love of India. They are coming here to save money.”

Indeed, although most Indian surrogates get roughly the same percentage of the total fees—about a quarter—as their American counterparts, the vastly lower cost of living in India offers huge savings to American clients. “Surrogacy is a form of labor,” lawyer Usha Smerdon, who runs a US-based adoption-reform group called Ethica, told me in an email. “But it’s an exploitative one, similar to child labor and sweatshops driven by Western consumerism…I challenge the notion that within these vastly differential power dynamics that surrogates are truly volunteering their services, that hospitals are operating aboveboard when driven by a profit motive.”

Who’s down with surrogacy? Peep this:

Besides India, only a handful of countries—including the United States, Ukraine, Thailand, Israel, and Georgia—allow surrogacy for pay, and most of those have imposed strict regulations. France, Greece, Japan, and the Netherlands forbid even unpaid arrangements, and no country, not even India, recognizes surrogacy as a legitimate form of employment. America leaves regulation to the states: Eight recognize and support it and have mandated health safeguards and counseling for surrogates. Three, plus the District of Columbia, have banned it outright. And the rest have either deemed surrogacy contracts unenforceable, left surrogacy for the courts to deal with through case law, or simply ignored the practice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *