Published On:11 October 2011
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Surrogacy Industry in India

By M Naushad Ansari

‘Medical Tourism Agency is expecting 100 surrogate babies this year in India’. ‘The surrogacy industry in India is a favourite destination among developed nations like US and UK’. ‘Bangalore is turning into a surrogacy hub’. ‘She (woman) rents womb to pay off debt’. ‘Surrogacy benefits: Money, Flat, Food & Medical Needs for 9 months’. ‘A package of Surrogacy Abroad.Inc, involving air travel, accommodation, finding a surrogate mother, in vitro fertilization (IVF) and delivery for the couple costs $ 40,000 to $ 45,00, one fourth of the amount is paid to the surrogate mother’……. These are some of the headlines on surrogacy which have appeared in ‘The Times of India’ (Bangalore edition) recently.

Surrogacy: Wombs on Rent
Various reports on the issue reveal that India is emerging as a major destination for surrogacy as childless couples from US and Europe are lured by the prospect of a surrogate child. Many say that India will become a centre of "reproductive tourism" in a short time.

Before the advent of modern assisted conception techniques, natural surrogacy was the only means of helping childless women to have children. Later as artificial insemination (A.I.) was accepted, this became the usual means of achieving pregnancy in cases of infertility, being more socially acceptable than the natural way. When assisted conception methods such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) become available, it was a method to use the eggs of the women wanting the baby/donor woman and the sperm of her husband/donor male, to create their embryos in vitro and transfer these to a suitable host.

In India, Surrogacy was known and practiced from ancient times. As per Mahabharata, Gandhari, wife of king Dhritarashtra, conceived but the pregnancy went on for nearly two years; after which she delivered a mass (mole). Lord Vyasa found that there were 101 cells that were normal in the mass. These cells were put in a nutrient medium and were grown in vitro till full term. Of these, 100 developed into male children ( Duryodhana, Duhshasana and other Kauravas) and one as a female child called (Duhsheela).

The Hindu mythology provides many examples like that of Sage Bharadwaj produced Drona, later to be the teacher of Pandavas and Kauravas. The story relating to the birth of Drishtadyumna and Draupadi is even more interesting and reflects the supernatural powers of the great Rishis. King Draupada had enmity with Dronacharya and desired to have a son strong enough to kill Drona. He was given medicine by Rishi and after collecting his semen, processed it and suggested that AIH should be done for his wife who, however, refused. The Rishi then put the semen in a Yajnakunda from which Dhrishtadyumna and Draupadi were born.

While the above are quoted as examples of IVF and parthenogenesis under Hindu belief, there is another story, which refers to embryo transfer. This was regarding the seventh pregnancy of Devaki, by the will of the Lord, the embryo was transferred to the womb of Rohini, the first wife of Vasudev, to prevent the baby being killed by baby Kamsa.

‘Women’s Era’, most widely read magazine for women in India, contains advertisements on ‘Surrogate mothers’ very frequently. The magazine is said to be brought out by the follower of Arya Samajist Hindus. Hence, Hindu belief seems to be permitting surrogacy.

Surrogate Mothers
However, in Islam, the second largest followed religion in India, Surrogate motherhood is not allowed due to the fact that many evils may arise from this procedure. Islam considers it illegal and immoral to introduce into a woman the sperm of any man other than her husband’s. It will be Haraam (forbidden) to form the embryo by the fusion of a woman's ovum with the sperm of a man other than her husband. It is also not lawful to implant into a woman sperm or/and an embryo into other woman’s womb.

According to Dr. ‘Abd al-‘Azeem al-Mat’ani of al-Azhaar University : ‘Renting wombs is one of the innovations of western civilization, which is a purely materialistic civilization which does not give any weight to moral values and principles. The issue is not things that may affect inherited characteristics or confuse lineage; that is not the point of the shar’i ruling. Whether that leads to any effect on inherited characteristics or not, whether that results in confusion of lineage or not, it does not matter, because the shar’i ruling forbidding this innovation is based on something else, which is that the womb is a part of a woman’s private parts and the private parts (i.e., sexual relations) are not permissible except through the shar’i contract whose conditions are fully met. So the womb is exclusively for the husband who is married to that woman according to a valid marriage contract, and no one else has any right to use it for an alien pregnancy. If the woman who rents out her womb is not married to that husband, then she is permitting her private parts and her womb to a man who is a stranger to her; she is not permissible for him and he is not permissible for her. Even if this is not full-scale zinaa (adultery), it is still definitely haraam because it is enabling a man who is a stranger to her (i.e., not married to her) to put his semen in her womb.’

Perhaps, the most compelling evidence supporting this view is the ayah (verse) in Surah al-Mujadalah (58: 2) where the Holy Qura’n says:

“…their mothers are only those who conceived them and gave birth to them (waladna hum).”

Besides, surrogacy has got various socio-psychological problems. During the period of pregnancy the woman goes through peculiar situations and undergoes sufferings. It is a well-known scientific fact that the woman who bears a child for nine long months gets emotionally attached to the child who remains in her womb for such a long period. In the case of surrogacy, the women have to suppress the feelings of motherhood for good and miss the company of the baby which results in severe psychological and biological problems. To bear a child for another woman is nothing but exploitation of a poor woman by tempting into 'leasing' their wombs for monetary benefits, which, in turn, undermine the very institution of marriage and family life, thus makes surrogate mothers a ‘baby-maker’ and a child a ‘commodity’.

[M. Naushad Ansari is Director, Centre for Dissemination of Universal Message, Bangalore. He can be contacted at ruby.naushad@gmail.com or on his Mobile # + 91 9036935053]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on October 11, 2011. Filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on October 11, 2011. Filed under , , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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