Before one begins the surrogacy process, it is important to educate yourself about the risks and benefits and ensure that one is ready to fully commit to the process, says DR RITA BAKSHI
Surrogacy is a modern and growing means of bringing a new life into the world, where a woman carries a baby for another person or a couple. The intended parents undergo IVF, meaning fertilisation outside of the body, to transfer their embryo into the surrogate's uterus.
Before one begins the surrogacy process, it is important to educate yourself about the risks and benefits of surrogacy and ensure that one is ready to fully commit to the process. One must also consult with a surrogacy professional to truly understand if surrogacy is right for them or not.
Surrogacy is a broad term used to describe situations when a woman agrees to carry a pregnancy for someone else with the intent of giving custody over to the intended parents. In gestational surrogacy, an embryo is then implanted into the uterus of the surrogate, who will carry the baby to full term. Gestational surrogacy is an increasingly common form of family building that can allow individuals or a couple to become parents despite circumstances in which carrying a pregnancy is biologically impossible or medically contraindicated. The practice of gestational surrogacy involves a woman known as a gestational carrier who agrees to bear a genetically unrelated child with the help of assisted reproductive technologies for an individual or couple who intends to be the legal and rearing parents/intended parents.
Every year, surrogacy helps thousands of aspiring parents overcome fertility challenges to expand their families. A few compelling reasons to consider surrogacy are:
- Medical problems or illnesses that affect the health of the uterus Previous surgeries or hysterectomy
- Conditions that either make a pregnancy high-risk or prevent pregnancy
- Unexplained infertility
Success rates for surrogacy depend on many factors, including:
- the surrogate’s ability to get pregnant
- the age of the woman whose eggs are being used
- the success of the treatment you’re having (ie, IUI, IVF or ICSI)
- the quality of the father’s or donor’s sperm
The age of the woman who provides the egg is the most important factor that affects the chances of pregnancy.
Commercial surrogacy is a highly controversial issue that leads to heated debates in the feminist literature, especially when surrogacy takes place in developing countries like ours. The new laws propose to put in place institutions like new National and State ART and Surrogacy Boards, as well as a National ART and Surrogacy Registry, to advise the Government on regulation and policy matters. The Registry will also maintain a database of the ART treatments undertaken across the country to ensure transparency in such matters. The Surrogacy Bill has been passed as separate legislation primarily for the protection of the rights of the surrogate mother in the process.
As per the Surrogacy bill, surrogacy is permitted only:
- For couples who possess a certificate of essentiality' that indicates they are proven to be infertile
- Not for commercial purposes
- Not for producing children for sale, prostitution, or other forms of exploitation
- For any condition or disease specified through regulations
The criteria listed in the bill for the individuals looking to be parents are:
- Heterosexual couple with a man between the ages of 26 and 55 years, and a woman between the ages of 25 and 50 years
- Married for a period of at least five years
- Should have no other biological, adopted, or surrogate children (unless the child is mentally/physically challenged or has a life-threatening disorder)
While the twin laws have noble intentions, and many of their provisions aim to clean up India’s unregulated surrogacy industry by bringing thousands of ART and surrogacy clinics under the ambit of the law, the claims that they are also deficient in many aspects are also not untrue.
The writer is Dr Rita Bakshi, Founder,at RISAA IVF