IVF exploitation in India

Predictions of exploitation of poor women by rich women who want surrogate babies seem to be coming true in India. Although hard statistics are lacking, Indian newspapers keep repeating that their country is becoming the surrogacy capital of the world. Whether or not this is true, a market exists for surrogate mothers and egg donors which has little to do with altruism.

According to one IVF doctor in Ahmedabad, Parul Kotdawala, “the physical characteristics of the donor, as per the demands of the prospective parents, play a decisive role in pricing. Since there are limited donors than buyers, the former are placed on a stronger footing in terms of dictating prices.”

However, other doctors describe a market in which the donor has the weaker hand. Gynaecologist Jagruti Sanghvi says: “There is a flourishing market for eggs in Ahmedabad. Agents are always on the prowl of probable donors.” Most professional donors come from the lower strata and do it purely for the money.

And if they are not willing, it appears that some, at least, are bullied into it by their husbands. “As their husbands are easy to convince, they are approached first,” says Dr Sanghvi. “However, with financial dealings involved in the process, husbands often force their will on their wives.”

There is very little regulation of the IVF industry in India – and existing guidelines are regularly ignored. The Indian Council of Medical Research stipulates that donation should be anonymous, but often doctors introduce the donor as a guarantee of their social profile and physical appearance. The donors are often kept in the dark about the potentially dangerous side-effects. And they are in no position to haggle.

One woman in Mumbai told DNAIndia that she wanted extra cash and decided to donate to a well-to-do couple and be “handsomely compensated”. But afterwards she was told that her eggs were not good enough and that she would be paid only 5,000 rupees (US$115). “I have no way of finding out if my eggs were really bad or if I was taken for a ride. I feel cheated,” she says. ~ ExpressIndia, Aug 24; DNAIndia, Aug 26

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