When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

After Foreign Surrogacy Ban, Will India Take The Next Step?

In October, India issued a ban on foreign couples seeking surrogacy there. Now, a proposed law wants to make the entire industry illegal, even for Indian couples. Surrogates and their advocates say it would be a dangerous mistake.

At a surrogacy clinic in Anand, India
At a surrogacy clinic in Anand, India
Bismillah Geelani

NEW DELHI India is one of the few countries where surrogacy is allowed, and in recent years the country has become a popular destination for what some describe as "made-to-order babies."

For foreigners such as Brit David Alice, who is gay, the country represented a chance to fulfill their wish for children. He opted for surrogacy after repeated adoption attempts failed.

"Obviously being in a same-sex relationship, it's incredibly difficult to adopt," he says. "I think if I had been a U.S. citizen, it would have been a lot easier. Surrogacy ended up being the only route I could take."

India has become known as the surrogacy capital of the world, with nearly 3,000 surrogacy homes across the country.

But not anymore.

In late October, the government imposed a ban on foreigners hiring surrogate mothers here. And now a proposed law is seeking to extend the ban to the entire $2 billion annual commercial surrogacy industry, even for infertile Indian couples.

The proposal, whose proponents say that poor and illiterate surrogates are being exploited, has come as a major disappointment for many. For 28-year old Shabnam, who is pregnant with her second surrogate child, it will mean a total loss of livelihood if it passes.

"I came into it because my husband is handicapped and can't work," she says. "I thought I would help others and solve my problems as well. The ban is totally unjustified. After all, we're not doing anything wrong. We are doing a service, and this is now our need. They should not ban it. They should not deprive us of this support."

Bajrang Singh opened a surrogacy home in suburban Delhi just a few years ago. "Our job is to search for surrogates and counsel them," Bajrang explains. "We carry out all the investigations to ensure that they are fit to carry out a pregnancy. The idea basically was to give the surrogates proper nursing care and treatment during the course of pregnancy."

Just who are the victims?

Singh says that as a new entrant into the industry, he will fare alright, but the surrogate mothers will be the worst hit if the outright ban goes through.

"I am more worried about the surrogates because most of them are poor and come from slum areas," he says. "With just one surrogacy, they earn more than what they can earn otherwise in a decade."

Outlawing commercial surrogacy has long been a demand of many women's groups, including the National Commission for Women, whose chair Lalita Kumara Mangalam says surrogacy exploits poverty and violates the dignity of women. Ironically, surrogates say the opposite. Dependent on surrogacy for a living, Shabnam and Singh are against the ban.

"There's no informed consent," sant Mangalam. The only reason they come into it is out of their poverty, so that is the only choice they have if you look at it as the right to choice. As soon as the word commercial comes into the picture, the exploitation of the poor women begins."

Surrogacy clinics or homes are often accused of underpaying the women and treating them as hostages during the nine months of their pregnancy.

In some cases, the commissioning parents have also abandoned babies born with birth defects.

Experts say there are various ethical, social and legal issues involved in surrogacy, but that an outright ban will only exacerbate the problem.

Ranjana Kumari, director of the New Delhi-based Centre for Social Research, says strict regulations and effective implementation would be a better solution.

"A law that would regulate the whole process, bring about transparency and ensure protection of the rights of everyone involved has been pending for so many years," she says. "The government didn't move on that and now has come up with this ban that's just a knee-jerk reaction. Banning is the worst thing we can do. It has never solved any problem."

She and others in India fear it will only push couples into a surrogacy black market.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


Shame On The García Márquez Heirs — Cashing In On The "Scraps" Of A Legend

A decision to publish a sketchy manuscript as a posthumous novel by the late Gabriel García Márquez would have horrified Colombia's Nobel laureate, given his painstaking devotion to the precision of the written word.

Photo of a window with a sticker of the face of Gabriel Garcia Marquez with butterfly notes at Guadalajara's International Book Fair.

Poster of Gabriel Garcia Marquez at Guadalajara's International Book Fair.

Juan David Torres Duarte


BOGOTÁ — When a writer dies, there are several ways of administering the literary estate, depending on the ambitions of the heirs. One is to exercise a millimetric check on any use or edition of the author's works, in the manner of James Joyce's nephew, Stephen, who inherited his literary rights. He refused to let even academic papers quote from Joyce's landmark novel, Ulysses.

Or, you continue to publish the works, making small additions to their corpus, as with Italo Calvino, Samuel Beckett and Clarice Lispector, or none at all, which will probably happen with Milan Kundera and Cormac McCarthy.

Another way is to seek out every scrap of paper the author left and every little word that was jotted down — on a piece of cloth, say — and drip-feed them to publishers every two to three years with great pomp and publicity, to revive the writer's renown.

This has happened with the Argentine Julio Cortázar (who seems to have sold more books dead than alive), the French author Albert Camus (now with 200 volumes of personal and unfinished works) and with the Chilean author Roberto Bolaño. The latter's posthumous oeuvre is so abundant I am starting to wonder if his heirs haven't hired a ghost writer — typing and smoking away in some bedsit in Barcelona — to churn out "newly discovered" works.

Which group, I wonder, will our late, great novelist Gabriel García Márquez fit into?

Keep reading...Show less

The latest