With commercial surrogacy banned in India, couples find refuge in Georgia
For years, surrogacy has been the most viable option for Indian couples who struggle with infertility. As per data, one in six urban couples in India are infertile.
However, this all came to a halt after the central government passed a law banning commercial surrogacy in the nation last December.
The change in laws hit the $375 million surrogacy business in India spread across 3,000 clinics. This is almost a tenth of the $4 billion global market for surrogacy, as per Global Markets Insights, and is expected to grow by almost a third by 2027.
With surrogacy not being an option in India anymore, Indian couples have found refuge over 4,000 kms away in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, according to a report by Business Insider. This European-Asian nation has emerged as the most favoured destination for Indians as commercial surrogacy is legal in Georgia and relatively inexpensive.
Dr Narayan Patel, who has helped thousands of parents from around the world in delivering babies through surrogacy, hadn’t had any new work since February, she told Insider. Patel, who rose to prominence after interviewed on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 2006, said she might soon have to fly Georgia capital Tbilisi to take on cases.
“It’s only natural for Indian couples to now want to go there for surrogacy,” she told Business Insider, adding, “And clinics there will either bring in experts like me from India or hire local doctors.”
A surrogacy centre in national capital New Delhi, ARTbaby, is now pitching its facility in Tbilisi as an ‘alternative’ for Indian couples.
According to the report, Vinsfertility, another surrogacy clinic in India, has started providing its services in other nations, specifically Georgia, as the centre is offering a “guaranteed surrogacy program” in a bid to adapt its business after the ban.
India banned surrogacy completely after a decade-long debate over the ethics of allowing people to pay women to carry their children. Before the ban, surrogacy in India cost over Rs 15 lakh, a lawyer from Mumbai told Insider.
About 25,000 children were born in India to surrogates as almost half of them were for foreign parents, research by The Lancet estimated.
In 2015, the Indian government banned foreigners from using Indian women as commercial surrogates, however, the domestic market was left untouched, until last year.
Georgia legalised surrogancy in 1997 while India’s two alternatives, Nepal, and Cambodia, banned the practice in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Surrogacy in Georgia costs between Rs 23-30 lakh, which is more expensive than India but much cheaper than western countries like the US where the average cost is between $120,000 to 150,000, said the report.
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