This article reminded me of a similar one I had done a few days ago
at Sowmya's instigation and encouragement . It was posted in her blog and I am
taking the liberty of posting it here again.
Its a lengthy one and feel free to skip any part that does not interest u :)
Surrogacy and the Indian society
There are a number of methods available today for handling the issue of infertility .But we will deal only with the practice of using 'Surrogate Mothers' (SM) to address infertility problem in this article.
Let's see who a SM is first .A woman who bears a child for another person, often for pay, either through artificial insemination or by carrying until birth another woman's surgically implanted fertilized egg. One that acts as, serves as, or is a mother substitute.
Surrogate Motherhood is the process by which a woman bears a child for another
couple, typically an infertile couple. There are two kinds of surrogate motherhood. In traditional surrogacy, the mother is artificially inseminated with sperm from the father or with sperm from a donor, if the father is infertile. In gestational surrogacy, sperm is taken from the father (or from a donor) and the egg is taken from the mother, fertilization happens in vitro , and the embryos are then implanted into the surrogate mother's uterus . Thus, the surrogate mother is not genetically related to the child.
In both the above cases , the SM is has a very vital role in bringing the child into this world although , in the first case its more so as she is also the biological mother .But , in both the
cases , her time or right over the baby is very limited.
In a tradition bound , conventional country like India , whether this pracitce will be easily accepted or encouraged is a million dollar question.
There are many facets to this system . The social , psychological and legal position of each person has to be dealt seperately. And it is not something that loses its impact as soon as the hiring couple get their child . Infact its a life long challenge which has to be faced by all parties involved . First the Surrogate Mother : Why would a woman want to bear a child then give it away to someone else?
It has to be one of these reasons.
1. She is poverty stricken and needs the money that the hiring couple pay her.
2. She is a close relative of the infertile couple and desperately wants to help out.
3. She is unusually altruistic and does this as a social service .
The last reason for which a SM bears the child is next to none . The second is a possibility . Here she is treated like a Goddess and her every whim is carried out. She is kept in good cheer and the main advantage is that she can continue being with the child .
But the first and the pathetic reason is the one that pushes unfortunate women to lend their womb . What would the impact be on her during and after the delivery ? A woman needs her partner's support , love and care during her pregnancy . In this case who is her partner ? Her husband who is going to benefit from the income ? or the man whose sperm was used ,
or the husband who is hiring her ? She goes through the gestational period with anxiety , uncertainity and insecurity . The very thought that the child does not belong to her would make her feel alienated to the whole process .
We hear every mother utter these words when asked what was the best moment of her life . She'd prompty say " the moment I saw my little one and her eyes looking into mine " . No mother would want to forget that moment of ecstasy and would cherish it for the rest of her life . Its only this poor woman who is expected to forget that wonderful memory.
Most of the women go through a very dull , irritating and depressive period called "Post Partum blues" after the delivery . This SM would have to go through this plus the actual depression of giving away her child. Her social standing also changes after this .She is seen as a conniving woman who would stop at nothing to make a few extra bucks. She is shunned by the society.
The Hiring couple :
Again the man has a set of problems and the wife another . If the sperm of the husband is used , things would be easy on him .Otherwise the man has to be mature enough to understand that although the child is biologically sired by another man , the child is his for all practical purposes.
The woman has mixed emotions . She feels guilt that she could not bear a child (if she has a problem conceiving ) or feels remorse. But overall she is the lucky woman as she is the one who ultimately has the baby and it must be such a relief to become a mother after a long unfruitful wait .
The child :
The child is separated from the SM soon after she is born. The child develops a bond with the mother while she nurses her but this child completely loses out on it . Otherwise , the child is doted upon by the hiring couple .
The real tough time comes when the child grows up and understands that she has another mother who actually gave birth to her. From various studies , it is seen as a fact that every adopted child is curious about her biological parents at a stage in her life . That wld be a great distraction and the constant nagging by her cld bring unpleasantness in the family.
Also , the child stands apart in the society. She is not accepted as normal and there wld be whisperings and mumblings when the child attends a social gathering and its is not an easy thing for the child to handle .
Anonymous Donor : The man who donates his sperms anonymously has no impact whatsoever and same for the woman who donates her ova .
So among all the parties , the worst affected parties are the SM and the child . The child’s problems are the same as any adopted child’s , and can be dealt with the same way .
But the SM’s is unique and she has to make sure she has appropriate support before choosing surrogacy.
Ethical issues :
A major objection to surrogate motherhood remains a fundamental one -- that procreation is separated from the physical expression of love and from the nurturing during pregnancy. How we understand the nature of parenthood is crucial in taking a moral stand on such scientific intervention. This procedure can be compared to people donating their kidneys to make a neat sum . The SM is more or less forced to let out her womb . what does that make her ?
“A human incubator on hire “ .
Indian Society and Surrogacy
Women’s Position :
As it is , there is gross injustice towards women in Indian society. What with lack of education for women , dowry system , dowry death , domestic violence , not having a say in family planning or contraceptive methods and other pressures forced on a daughter-in-law !
1.This would be used as another way of making money and the woman wld be forced to become a SM by her relatives.
2. Her health would be compromised . Her emotianal needs would be neglected .
3. This may become a practice and the women would be finding herself pregnant every 15 months .
Legal implications :
The motivation of a physician or lawyer who engages the services of a surrogate mother must also not impinge upon the moral position of an infertile couple who are considering this procedure The primary objection to surrogate motherhood is the absence of a legal framework to address its many dimensions. The status of the child as well as of the others involved is at risk until the rights and responsibilities of all parties are legally defined and enforced. What will happen if the surrogate mother wants to keep the baby? Can she be enjoined from doing so by the overriding legal right of the biological father who has contracted with her? Can the father successfully sue her if she absconds with the baby? If she miscarries, is the payment to be prorated? If the father/husband and his wife get divorced or separate, who will be awarded custody of the child? Are they both free to change their minds in that event? What if either becomes widowed? What if the child is less than perfect? Can a biological father (and his wife if
she is a coequal party to the contract) require or prevent an amniocentesis? What if abortion is morally repugnant to the surrogate? If the expectant mother contracts a serious disease or gets a job offer, can she invoke her constitutional right to privacy (to abort)? May she do so despite an existing agreement? Who is responsible if the baby survives an abortion attempt? These are some of the questions that await legal
The conscientious physician, if he or she is not to be regarded as a mere technician, must be satisfied that these safeguards are in effect before cooperating in the conception of a child in a situation of surrogacy. The legal should be clear about all the possible situations that would arise from this peculiar system of Surrogacy.
Commercialism of Surrogacy :
This is the worst aspect of Surrogacy . India is becoming a fertility tourism spot , where couples come from abroad for surrogacy . There is the risk of the country turning into a major child incubating centre , and our women would be reduced to ever pregnant , depressed , undernourished and mentally unstable lot . The poverty and population does not help the situation one bit . A new breed of pimps and illegal agents would spring up all over the state trying to make quick bucks using needy women. There should be strict laws that prevent women being exploited with the lure of foreign money . At no cost should this be allowed to become a commercial racket.
Social outlook :
Our Indian society is not ready to take this giant leap . We have still not come out of caste system , religious disputes and general diversity . How can it accept a child sired by another man , but being brought up as another one’s. The scenario is worse if the child is born with a donor’s sperm and the ova of the wife . Though , adoption is mentioned in ‘manu’ , it was practiced not to help infertile couple , more to keep the wealth in the family or to carry on the family name.
Even today , people prefer to adopt their own nieces or nephews .The whole idea of Surrogacy is the result of infertile couple not able to accept a child from an adoption agency as their own.
In a country like India , Adoption shd be encouraged and the childless couple should be counseled and made to understand the advantages in adopting a child . they shd be made to understand that their own DNA brings out love and attachment in them , any child that is brought home in due course of time , gets so attached to them that there would not be a difference between their biological child and these adopted children.
There is a funny story in Tom and Jerry series that goes along these lines. All of us know how mean and cruel Tom is . In Tom’s presence an egg rolls out and hatches. Out comes out a cutie pie ducky and looks at Tom and says “momma” which is nothing but “imprinting” which means , the first mother like object a new born baby sees , it assumes to be its mother.
Tom in its usual mean ways , wants to make a meal out of it. Jerry notices this and tries to save the ducky . He drags the little ducky into its hole and shows a picture of a mother duck and a duckling and a cat with its kitten .
Jerry points to the Duck;s picture says “MOMMA”and Shows the cat and says "No ,MOMMA” . The little Ducky says “naa naa “ to the duck and grabs the cat’s picture and droolingly and lovingly says “mmmoooommmaaa” . He goes back to Tom who tries to make a dish out of it..inspite of the little ducky calling it “mommaaa…momaaaa” .At this point I was furious with Tom , for not softening up even towards such tender innocent loving little baby duckling . Eventually , the duckling understand what Tom is upto and decides to please
its mother by jumping into the broth with its parting words …
“is’nt this what u want mommaaa…I’ll jump mommmaaa..
bye maaammaa..but I still love u maaammaaa” with such a cute little pathetic face .
at this point Tom crumbles and grabs the little one….while Jerry rushes in to see what’s happening near the brook. and guess what he finds there… leading the little duckling is Tom shaking its derriere to the musical rhythm of “Quack quack quack ….” So when the meanest of mean …..Tom can be changed with the affection of a baby of another species….why cant we ?
I would like to conclude that this procedure will not be accepted in India as we have still not got over the existing problems and this would be like starting a volley of new ones.
Our society will take atleast another decade to be ready to accept such forward anc complex system . Untill then , blood relatives helping in Surrogacy and adopting a child should be the solution for infertile couples .