Ahana Sen Gupta: Birth is indeed a boon. Womb that nurtures an unborn soul is the keep of life. But when it comes with a price tag, it loses its originality. However in medical terminology, it is known as surrogacy. Offering the womb to intended parents is a common practice across the globe. Successful cases of surrogacy have been reported in India too. Surat town of the state of Gujarat was once hailed as the Surrogate capital.
The basic point of my piece on surrogacy stands on the update of the draft bill banning commercial surrogacy in India. Though in draft stage, the clauses of the bill indicate that only infertile and childless couples can opt for surrogacy. Also the bill is ought to regulate the proper commissioning of surrogacy.
Time and again, women have faced the wrath in the name of surrogacy. Renting a womb has been seen in a poor light. They remain exposed to physical and psychological risks, mostly in cases when foreign couples opt for Indian surrogate mothers. ‘Commercial Surrogacy’ which involves a hefty amount being paid to the woman who bears the child. This has paved the way for Reproductive Tourism where under-privileged women are being exploited in the hands of certain type of foreigners. The tragedy is most of them try to abandon the disabled children.
Lax of regulations did not bar proliferation surrogacy. Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj welcomed the new amendments, thereby slamming celebrities who opted for surrogacy to surpass health hazards. To name a few instance, Shah Rukh Khan and his wife Gauri were parents to two teenage kids. Still they opted for a third child Abram through surrogacy. Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao also conceived their son Azad Rao via surrogacy. Another celeb, single parent Tushar Kapoor has also got a child through surrogacy. As for people of this nation have never questioned any move by Bolly celebs, the ban on commercial surrogacy has brought their issues to forefront. Sushma Swaraj highlighted the fact that surrogacy can’t be just a matter of someone’s whims and fancies. She wanted to pinpoint the fact that to avoid the pains of child birth, celebs are choosing surrogacy over natural birth. She was vehemently criticized for ridiculing celebs but on one point, she does rightfully defend the new move of glorifying surrogacy. Apart from fashions, celebs are setting the surrogacy trend.
My stand on this issue is the visible discrimination and exploitation that is revealing the dark facades of the surrogacy ‘market’. It is predominantly based on the economy. Surrogacy has never been a social taboo. But can we really opt for it just to deter the perils of child birth? The wide difference exists in the name of affordability. Where celebs spend millions for their looks and choose the surrogate way for a child, there are many childless couples who remain bereft of their offspring. Also some social stigma is attached to this clause. Same sex relations may not be legal, but they are also dominating this scene. I believe surrogacy has become so rampant that it reduces the chance of barren couples to actually opt for it.
The present clauses of surrogacy are so pathetically structured that the mother has to spend her life under wraps. Do we ever try to dig into the identity of the woman who has mothered a lot like Abrams or Azads? No. In our country in general, motherhood is a negligible fact. Though we worship several goddesses. In this context, a surrogate mother is a much more ignorable element. Surrogacy is blatantly accepted and so is abortion in the initial three months only. Some nations never chose to kill an unborn soul. We need to prioritize the rights of woman and strike out the abuses that come along with it. Barring ill typed foreign influence, we need to amend the yardsticks which pose as potential hazards for those women. In present condition, the right of livelihood is also being deprived.
Within domestic walls, the underground trade will be channeled into unethical hands. Specially, when a couple from the higher strata of the society has multiple options for picking a distressed womb to foster their child, the poor childless couples are left with meager options. The discrimination exists as most marginal women who rent out their wombs just for a few rupees find no voice, owing to the economic and social discrimination. A large gap is latent amidst the uproar of amending the law. To us, beautiful Bollywood celebs are bold ones to be applauded. When many infertile couples remain abstained from the joy of having a child, while most surrogate mothers are prevented from nurturing a child. Both sides are caught in the vicious cycle of the colour of money.
It is hoped that such grievances will be addressed in the new draft Surrogacy bill and unbiased instances will evolve.