Surrogacy is the practice of giving birth to a baby for another woman who is unable to have a baby for herself. In simple words, surrogate motherhood is defined as mothering by proxy. A surrogate mother rents her womb to get a child for an intended mother. Female infertility or any other medical problem that makes a woman unfit to bear a child is the chief reasons for surrogacy. 'Mothering by proxy' is also popular because of busy American and European couples. Since they cannot undergo the bother of pregnancy, they hire a womb and when a surrogate mother is willing to rent a womb for financial considerations.
There are childless couples across the world. It is a satisfying substitute for the couples who are childless because of biological restraint. The couples ineligible to produce child, then they are assisted by some artificial methods of contraception. Parenting a child is a spiritual experience for these couples and science has done miracles in its application.
However, surrogacy is not so welcome in society and is often belittled. There are many grey areas of which we are not even aware. Surrogacy has the potential to convert the normal biological function of a woman's body into a commercial machine.
There are several agencies that advertise their services. They make huge profits out of women's bodies. Surrogacy degrades pregnancy to a profitable business. India is evolving as a guide in worldwide surrogacy. It has a 500 million dollar industry and has virtually become a destination for medical tourism but often it is a destination for wrong reasons. Indian surrogates are less expensive and foreign couples save a large chunk of money by hiring them. So long as surrogacy is a voluntary and altruistic act, there is no problem. The problem begins where the money comes in.
India legalized commercial surrogacy in 2002 and the Supreme Court unequivocally ruled that "Commercial surrogacy is legal". Yet there is no law to check its malpractices. Several poor Indian women risk their lives while bearing a child in her womb. The institutions who deal in this work are only concerned with the child and not the surrogate mothers' health and afflictions.. 25000 children are now being born in India every year to support an industry worth 2 billion. Since the cost of womb and fertility treatment in India is cheaper, would-be parents are flooding in.
But most of the industry is operating unchecked. Indian Medical Research watchdog drafted regulations in 2010, but it still awaits presentation in the parliament. In fact, many well run clinics do not appear to be flexible and transparent in their dealings. The guidelines issued in 2005 by the Indian Council of Medical Research are not in the nature of binding. Therefore, in India, the controversial fertility market is growing into a surrogacy supermarket. Surprisingly, it is legal by default. There is much more invisible than meets the eye in the lucrative practice of surrogacy. Surrogacy laws are different for different countries, hence it is difficult to address any argument by embarking on an umbrella term.
There is no substitute for one's baby in a womb. A woman has divine experience in motherhood but for childless couples, surrogacy is the last resort. But technological advances have left nothing impossible. The day is not far for ordering made babies. Liza Mundy in her latest book of surrogacy sums up the issue as "what is at work in assisted reproduction is often not science but business".