In a new twist to the outsourcing for which India has become renowned, poor Indian women are renting out their wombs to foreigners.
Surrogate motherhood—carrying to term and giving birth to another woman’s baby—once was limited in India to helping close relatives who couldn’t complete a pregnancy due to medical difficulties.
But leading gynecologist Dr. Kamla Selvaraj says it’s now becoming a regular “profession” in India, with more and more women willing to carry babies for others, for a fee.
India has for years been providing foreigners with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment at a cheaper rate than the equivalent services in Western countries.
Surrogacy comes in when the biological mother is unable to carry the child. Alternatively, a surrogate also provide eggs when the woman wanting a child is unable to do so herself.
Apart from low-cost IVF treatment, India also is offering surrogate mothers at a considerably lower price than couples would pay in the U.S. or Europe.
Women’s counselor Harleen Ahluwalia says surrogacy cases are estimated to have nearly doubled in the past three years.
“Foreigners find Indian legal procedures easy and less exploitative, unlike [in the] U.S., where any complication could cost a fortune,” she said.
While a couple in the U.S. will generally pay tens of thousands of dollars to a surrogate mother and affiliated agencies, in India the cost could be around $5,000, plus medical and attendant costs.