Hyderabad: In the evening of June 17, when a team of district health officials and Task Force police entered the Kiran Fertility Centre at Banjara Hills, they found two airy and large halls which were fitted with as many beds as possible.
There were 48 women with baby bumps, from different parts of India, inside those halls struggling to cope with the poor amenities provided to them. “The most striking thing we noticed was that most of these women could not even read properly, which left us wonder if they really knew the contents of the agreement they had signed with the clinic, and did they realise the risks of being a surrogate mother,” said a district health official.
The women, who rent their womb by enrolling with the IVF clinics in Hyderabad and its outskirts, could not even understand the contracts they signed with the clinics as most of them were illiterate. They ignored several physical and emotional risks.
IVF clinics often plant embryos in two or more surrogates for one commissioning parent, and perform abortion if there is more than one pregnancy. They also try to stop the surrogate mother forming a bond with the baby by giving them drugs to stop lactation post childbirth. The risks are secondary for a surrogate mother, who is often compelled to take up the task due to extreme poverty.
A surrogate mother, Minakshi from Nanded, who had given birth twice after entering into a contract with an IVF clinic in Hyderabad, said she was not aware of the contract terms.
“My husband was doing odd jobs and we could not find any other way to make our ends meet. We do not have a house or savings. My husband told me about surrogacy, and we came to Hyderabad. After medical tests, they offered me Rs 80,000 and that was a huge amount for us, thus I agreed. I signed the papers without learning any of the norms,” she said.
A standard contract drafted by IVF clinics states that the clinic wouldn’t be responsible for the loss of life or any other grave health risk during pregnancy or childbirth. It also states that the women should not go out of the hostel /shelter premises, even to visit her family, during the pregnancy.
The new ART Bill 2016 is framed to protect surrogate mother’s and also ensures that only genuine infertile couples opting for this method of child birth.
The current trend in India is that the reproductive organs of a woman are exploited for commercial gain.
Surrogate mothers do not have any bond with the foetus and is merely a means of making quick money.
Hazards of being a surrogate
- Surrogate mothers are forced to undergo C-section despite there being an agreement for normal delivery.
- Short term health hazards are fatigue, vomiting and swelling of joints.
- The Long term health hazards are cardiovascular diseases, scarring, varicose veins and loose skin