NEW DELHI — As the world celebrates mothers today, actress Twinkle Khanna, known for her humorous and evocative blogs on contentious issues, has asked a question that Indian society often forgets to address — the women who rent their wombs so that a childless couple can experience parenthood.
Khanna recalled her own painful experience of childbirth and how while on a postpartum checkup at a doctor's clinic she ran into a surrogate mother which got her thinking about the merits of surrogacy.
"She may conceive triplets due to the large number of embryos put inside her but she has to proceed with this high-risk pregnancy anyway. If she miscarries at any point, she is usually paid nothing. If all goes well, one fine day, she is cut open, the child is removed and she is never seen again," she wrote.
The first Indian surrogate baby was delivered on June 23, 1994.
"There is at present no law governing surrogacy in India, eventually the activity including renting a womb (commercial surrogacy) is considered legitimate. In the absence of any law the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in 2005 issued guidelines for accreditation, supervision and regulation of ART clinics in India. But the need for legislation became pressing with ICMR guidelines being often violated and reportedly rampant exploitation of surrogate mothers and even cases of extortion," writer ML Dhar wrote in an article published on the government website of the Press Information Bureau.
"India has become a booming centre of a fertility market, partly surreptitiously, and today there are an estimated 200,000 clinics across the country offering artificial insemination, IVF and surrogacy. They call it Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)", wrote ML Dhar.
Khanna argued that a surrogate mother's body would obviously undergo enormous changes during pregnancy and there should be adequate physical, legal and emotional support for her.
"I left the clinic but the image of rooms filled with scores of pregnant women cooped up together till it was harvesting day, did not leave me," she concluded.
Read Khanna's entire blog here.