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Surrogacy is Rs 900 crore industry

Mumbai, Sep 11 () : Surrogacy, the womb for hire is estimated to be a Rs 900 crore industry. It is growing at 20% every year and each birth costs as much as Rs 12 lakhs.

This is not only a boon for childless couples but also a source of income for many women. Agents, lawyers, ART banks and doctors form part of this business. In 2012, about 6,000 surrogacy births took place. The rise in surrogacy births is not just linked to infertility.

Women in IT and banking sectors take this route as staying away from work during pregnancy and post delivery put their chances of reaching higher posts at risk. Those in the film and modelling industries too opt for this route.

Yet another reason is that career-oriented women often marry late and this makes pregnancy difficult. Surrogacy clinics earlier were lucky if they had one case a month but today an average of 30 cases is handled and majority of them are women in BPO and IT sectors.

Earlier, women from Western countries would come to India for surrogate mothers as costs were less but today women from middle class families have registered with ART banks with the consent of their husband and family. Mostly it is to fund their aim to buy a house or repay a debt, in some case to fund the child’s education.

Those in the twenties and early forties are preferred. Out of the Rs 12 lakh bill, only Rs 5 lakh goes to the mother and she gets Rs 5000 a month for her food and nutrition supplements. The rest of the money goes towards the lawyer, doctor, lab tests, ART bank and hospital charges.

National Registry of Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinics has around 150 clinics registered while more are in operation. There is no law that regulates this sector and now a draft has been prepared by Law Ministry.

The in-vitro fertilization method creates an embryo and plants it in the biological mother. There are 700 such clinics and setting up a clinic costs Rs 1 crore as equipments have to be imported. About 11 nations have given NOC to procure surrogate babies from India. This business thrives in cities which have consulates or embassies of these countries as it is easy for foreign nationals to get visas for the baby.

Surrogate mother after having the embryo formed out of the parent’s sperm implanted in her womb is kept away from the family till delivery and is under care of the clinic. The law governing death during pregnancy is vague and there is no insurance. All these are covered by the agreement.

Even if the baby dies during pregnancy, the mother gets the money. Doctors are not allowed to deal directly with surrogate mothers and only ART banks do so. Usually the surrogate mother moves to another city to hide the pregnancy from the relatives, say agents.