Hyderabad turns hub for surrogate moms

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“I signed up for surrogacy five times,” claimed a young woman from the city in her post on a website, offering to rent her womb for the sixth time to infertile couples. Another young woman described in detail her physical and health traits while volunteering to bear someone’s child for the fourth time.

A number of medical tourism firms in the USA, Europe and Australia promote India as the best and the most economical destination for surrogacy. A casual browse of the Internet reveals a list of dozens of women from Hyderabad ready to become surrogate moms.

No wonder, Hyderabad is fast turning into a global hub of surrogate pregnancies. Infertile couples from at least three dozen countries including the USA, the UK and Australia have engaged surrogate mothers in the city.

Fertility experts pointed out that the high success rate coupled with affordable costs and easy legal documentation has made India the favourite destination for infertile couples from foreign countries. Surrogacy is 15 to 20 times cheaper in India than in developed nations.

While countries like the USA, UK and Australia have stringent laws that make it difficult or impossible to hire surrogate mothers, India does not have clear-cut laws on womb rentals. The guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research allows voluntary surrogacy on condition that hospitals should not hire prospective surrogate mothers or advertise about surrogacy.

However, many hospitals do not follow these rules. Ideally a woman should not volunteer for surrogacy more than three times. But multiple surrogate pregnancies are quite common in India.

Sources said that about 500 foreign couples engage surrogate mothers every year in Hyderabad alone. The success rate (delivery of live babies) in the city is between 25 and 30 per cent, which means about 125 babies are delivered. The surrogacy market in India is now pegged at Rs 14,000 crore, including the costs paid to surrogates.

Senior fertility expert Dr Roya Rozati said that surrogate mothers in Hyderabad charge between Rs 4.5 lakh and Rs 6 lakh. “For infertile couples in developed countries, this is affordable. Moreover, the surrogacy costs in developed countries are prohibitive,” she pointed out.

Another reason why India has been attracting infertile couples is that Indian laws recognise surrogacy, which means a surrogate mother is not the legal mother of the child, Dr Roya Rozati said. The couple, which hires the surrogate mothers, gets the legal parents’ rights.

But in the many countries, the surrogate mother is the legal mother, which makes matters worse for the intending parents.

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