For those considering an international surrogacy, there’s usually one specific process they consider first: surrogacy in India.
Indian surrogacy has long been a popular option for international intended parents but, like most international surrogacies today, has recently gone through major legislative reform to bring regulation to the surrogacy process. Because of this, if you’re an international intended parent considering surrogacy in another country, surrogacy in India likely won’t be the answer for you.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering a gestational surrogacy in India:
Is Surrogacy Legal In India?
What had once been a popular destination for international intended parents no longer became an option in 2015, at which time the Indian government passed new regulations on the surrogacy process. Today, Indian surrogacy laws make it illegal for foreign intended parents to complete a surrogacy in India. The only people who can complete a commercial surrogacy in India today are Indian intended parents who have been married for at least five years.
The ban on foreign intended parents in 2015 was only the start of legislation regulating surrogacy. In December 2018, after almost two years of debate, an Indian surrogacy law was passed that:
- Made commercial surrogacy illegal
- Only allows altruistic surrogacy for needy, infertile Indian couples
- Requires intended parents to be married for five years and have a doctor’s certificate of their infertility
- Restricts women to being surrogates only once, and only if they are a close relative of the intended parents, are married and have a biological child
- Bans single parents, homosexuals and live-in couples from surrogacy
These changes reflect a new era of surrogacy in Asia; other countries like Thailand and Nepal have recently implemented surrogacy bans, as well.
Why Has Indian Surrogacy Been Banned?
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly one reason why surrogacy in India has been banned for international intended parents, but it’s easy to identify some reasons that may have played a role in this decision by legislators.
Like all international surrogacies in lesser-developed countries, the protections available for intended parents and surrogates are less available — and have led to harmful results. When Indian surrogacy first became a booming industry, there were no regulations in place, and unsafe and unethical practices developed in response.
The women who chose to become surrogates in India during this time were subjected to unethical treatment, poor living conditions and exploitation. To keep up with demand from international intended parents, Indian surrogacy agencies effectively ran “baby factories,” where Indian women were forced to live until they gave birth to the intended parents’ babies — with usually no assistance for the family they had left behind while pregnant.
In addition, the surrogates in India only received a fraction of the expenses that intended parents paid the surrogacy agency — only $4,000 to $5,000 for compensation. With agencies charging more than double that in total, surrogates were commonly exploited in commercial surrogacy. Their poverty and lack of education drew them back into the surrogacy process over and over again for this financial gain, and their health declined as they effectively became “baby-making machines” year after year. They also did not receive the kind of supportive services they needed for themselves and their family during this emotional journey.
In response to these stories emerging over time, the Indian government attempted to take steps to make the process safer for all involved. Unfortunately, that resulted in a restrictive process that has made the process more difficult or completely impossible, rather than safer.
Will Indian Surrogacy Ever Be Legal Again?
It’s hard to speculate about where the Indian surrogacy laws will go from here. If the recently passed bill is any indication, it seems like surrogacy in India won’t be possible any time soon for international intended parents.
This is why many surrogacy professionals recommend working in an area that has regulations aimed to protect those involved — rather than working with a surrogate in a location that has banned the process outright. It’s not unreasonable to predict that surrogacy will continue in India, even if it’s illegal, putting more intended parents and surrogates at risk than before. In this way, the surrogacy laws in India likely won’t succeed in their goal, and the controversies surrounding Indian surrogacy may not dissipate as quickly as planned.
If you’re considering surrogacy in India as a foreign intended parent, it’s best to consider other locations to complete your surrogacy goals, so as to avoid legal repercussions. The United States is one of the best options available to complete your surrogacy in a safe, well-regulated way, and many surrogacy professionals advise it be at the top of your list.
To learn more about your options for completing surrogacy as an intended parent, we recommend you contact an experienced surrogacy agency.
Are you interested in learning more about surrogacy or starting the process? Complete our form to request free surrogacy information now.