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India Has Wombs For Rent

Wombing It Up in India

A while back I saw a series on Oprah about surrogacy in India. Yesterday I was reminded of the topic when I read a New York Times article about it.

For many, becoming parents is a dream, sometimes unattainable through traditional methods. When people have to examine unconventional conceiving options, the dollar signs can be overwhelming.

IVF treatments can run about $10,000 per try. And surrogacy in the States averages $100,000. If you're a wealthy individual or pair, that may not seem daunting, but for many it's unrealistic.

To see what some Americans are doing to get their babes,


India has quickly made an international name for itself as a place to go for medical procedures from heart surgery to plastic surgery. Now, it is also becoming a mecca for "womb rentals." Couples from all over the world are finding their dream babies in the heart of country.

When surrogacy can cost roughly $75,000 to $100,000 in America, it costs just $25,000 in India. And that includes all medical bills, payment to the surrogate, and air and hotel accommodations for two trips to India. For desperate couples, is it an answer to their prayers.

At PlanetHospital in California, President Rudy Rupak sent 25 couples to India in 2007. In 2008, he expects to send four times as many. As with most things on the "cheap," critics worry that the surrogates are being exploited for their less-expensive wombs.

To make sure the process is as wholesome as possible, there are rules set in place at many clinics. The surrogates must be younger than 45 and have a child of their own. Many of the hospitals pay the baby–carrying women directly, from which they typically receive about a quarter of the overall fee.

In a country where the average annual income is equivalent to $450, a $6,000 paycheck makes a world of difference.

The guest on Oprah's show summed it up:

You have not walked in my shoes as someone who cannot have a child. And you don't know how it feels to not be able to pay for your children to go to school, to not be able to . . . take care of your family. You don't know how that feels. And we were able to come together, [Sangita – the surrogate] and I, and give each other a life that neither of us could achieve on our own. And I just don't see what's wrong with that.

If you were in a situation where a surrogate was your only answer, would you consider India as a source?

Join The Conversation
puddlesworth puddlesworth 9 years
Why???? There are soooo many orphans in India, whoever wastes that kind of money to have more is an idiot.
lms lms 9 years
I would not use a surrogate. For that matter, I would not do IVF or adopt. That is just me though. I have a daughter already, but I am pretty confident that I wouldn't have done anything if I couldn't conceive naturally. I also think that this is a bit of a strange situation. It benefits and exploits these Indian women at the same time.
NYFashionista NYFashionista 9 years
I agree with all of you. I actually have to admit I am so torn about this. In some ways, I think, poor women in India have very few options to make money. Some as a result are unfortunately forced to do things no woman in her right mind would never want to do (i.e. organ donation or prostitution). I blame the Indian government for not monitoring such activities and providing better options for the poor. To that end, yes, this option is far more ideal. However, there are physical, emotional, psychological, and social dimensions to this business that this article doesn't seem to address. There is the very real concern that having a child taken away from you (whether you agreed to it or not), is traumatizing and depressing. How do these organizations account for traumatized or depressed woman post-the transaction? Are there follow-ups with the woman to ensure that she is faring well, physically, emotionally, psychologically, and otherwise? Also, carrying around a baby for 9 months is not only expensive (because quite simply, she needs to eat more, and she needs to eat more nutritious foods), but there is also an opportunity cost involved. How do these agencies care for the woman during the course of her pregnancy? Do they compensate her for the work that she misses because of the pregnancy? What about complications? Do these organizations / individuals also pay for medical expenses incurred as a result of the pregnancy? And of course, there's the social dimension - how do these women deal with the social stigma of carrying a fatherless baby? How do they explain it to their communities? How does the agency work with the woman to minimize alienation? What if the woman loses her social network as a result of this work? Clearly, the agency / individual wouldn't take responsibility for that, but what happens then? Obviously, I have so many questions, and there are very few answers available. I just have a problem with a woman "renting" her uterus in order to make money. Which is why I wish more people would choose adoption...
ktownpolarbear ktownpolarbear 9 years
even though i'm still fairly young (i'm only 23), i made a decision a long time ago, that if i can't have children easily, then i'd adopt. actually, even if i could have children, i'd still adopt in addition to them. no ivf's, no surrogacy.
blackjade blackjade 9 years
If it were me I would adopt.
hotstuff hotstuff 9 years
This is such a sticky situation. In one way everyone benefits. The parents who can afford it get a child. The poor family in India can change their lives with the money. Something still seems off about it like taking advantage of poor people but I guess I can't blame either side for doing it!
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