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Fertility Tourism in India Is Exploitative

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"Fertility tourism in India is exploitative"

It is estimated that 9% of couples worldwide are infertile. Although it remains difficult, women unable to conceive naturally, or who are past their reproductive prime, are still able to have a child. To do so, many seek high-tech, low cost help from India. Long waiting times related to a shortage of eggs and sperm in the UK and elsewhere, the lack of donor anonymity, over-regulation, high costs and poor experiences of treatment are cited as reasons for going abroad for help.

In India, 'commissioning couples' can expect high-quality care, cost effective treatment, a high success rate and few legal hurdles. Donor eggs, sperm, and embryos are available, and women can become pregnant through IVF or can hire a surrogate - a woman who bears a child, genetically unrelated to herself whom she will give up on delivery.

But while demand for such services keeps growing, so too do the legal, moral and ethical concerns related to its practice. Dubbed the 'wild, wild west of medicine' by bioethicist Arthur Caplan, many argue that the unregulated, global nature of commercial surrogacy and egg and sperm donation is highly vulnerable to exploitative practices.

In India the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill - 2010, is just the latest attempt to regulate fertility services that some fear are spinning out of control. Should we celebrate the material and emotional gains brought about by fertility tourism, for surrogates, donors and commissioning parents alike? Or do we need to be more circumspect about the thriving 'rent-a-womb' market and the 'outsourcing of pregnancy'?



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