Giving birth. It’s just another “job” we Singaporeans have outsourced to India. A multi-million dollar industry, commercial surrogacy is BIG business in India. According to a 2007 study released in Mumbai, from 2004 to 2006, surrogacy cases have increased over six times. And mind you, we’re talking the number of cases recorded!
What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy, simply put, is when a woman agrees to carry a child in her womb for someone else. The relationship of this woman to the baby is just that: a carrier. The fertilized egg of another woman is implanted to grow in this woman to grow the child. This third party woman could be a relative (think Pheobe in the Friends episode, where she carries her brother and sister-in-law’s fertilized egg), or it could be a random stranger.
Surrogacy does not guarantee a pregnancy, but the latest estimates of its success stands at around 38%. In the US, the cost of surrogacy can run anywhere from $71,000 or more. In countries India, however, the cost for the entire procedure is around $18,000. The surrogate mother, who carries the child receives about $5,000 to $9,000 of that portion.
Who are the surrogate mums?
Surrogate mums are usually impoverished women, who might not earn the sum of money mentioned above in years. For a lot of them, surrogacy is their last “decent” chance to pay off their debts, buy a house or even save for their kid’s education.
The clinics that employ these women usually stipulate that all surrogates must already be mothers so they understand what’s involved physically and will be less likely to become emotionally attached to the babies they birth. All surrogates are also expected to sign a contract agreeing to hand over the baby — which reassures prospective parents.
Advocates of surrogacy call it a mutually beneficial relationship. The barren gets a baby, the broke get paid, and everyone lives happily ever after. Neutrals believe it is controversial with both advantages and disadvantages for all parties concerned. Opponents deem it as another example of third-world exploitation and a clear case of globalization gone mad.
Even doctors around the world are divided on this issue. Some feel that adoption should be the way to go for couples who are unable to conceive, while others believe it should be medically accessible for anyone wanting a child.
Surrogacy in Singapore
Surrogacy is illegal in Singapore. It is also unlawful for local doctors to help in surrogacy. Dr. P C Wong, Senior Consultant at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at NUH, speculates that the government is holding back from legalizing surrogacy due to ethical issues.
The Catholic Church is also against surrogacy. The Vatican website states: “Surrogate motherhood represents an objective failure to meet the obligations of maternal love, of conjugal fidelity and of responsible motherhood; it offends the dignity and the right of the child to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up by his own parents; it sets up, to the detriment of families, a division between the physical, psychological and moral elements which constitute those families.”
What about you? Do you think surrogacy is an idea that should never have been born? Or is it a win-win situation for both parties involved?
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