Health Law

Now Outsourced to India: Child-bearing

It isn’t just data entry, computer programming and some legal work that’s being outsourced to India these days.

Infertile couples from the U.S. and other foreign countries are now paying women there to bear their biological children, in part because it costs less than hiring a surrogate mother at home, reports Reuters. India has no law on such “rent-a-womb” arrangements, the news agency says, although the country’s medical research council has set nonbinding guidelines.

A patchwork quilt of legal rules applies to surrogacy arrangements in the U.S., ranging from flat-out statutory prohibition of the practice to no law at all, and court rulings in different states both allow and prohibit the practice, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a nonprofit group promoting civil rights of gays, lesbians and others. The organization describes the surrogacy laws of numerous states on its Web site. Links can be found by searching using the word “surrogacy.”

Money is a factor on both sides of the contractual arrangement, which generally involves an egg from the non-child-bearing mother or a donor to reduce the chance of the surrogate bonding with the baby and refusing to give it up after it is born, the article says. Reproductive arrangements for infertile couples today also commonly include donor sperm if the husband is unable to conceive a child.

“In the U.S., a childless couple would have to spend anything up to $50,000,” one fertility specialist tells Reuters. “In India, it’s done for $10,000-$12,000.” That breaks down to between $2,000 and $3,000 charged by a fertility clinic for the procedure–and between $3,000 and $6,000 paid to the surrogate mother. That is, Reuters writes, “a fortune in a country with an annual per capita income of around $500.”

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