Across the city, surrogate mothers are visibly disappointed with the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 that disallows commercial surrogacy. Even as IVF expert Dr Shilpa Sachdev has gathered surrogate mothers to voice their opinion in Delhi, willing surrogates in Mumbai are visiting IVF clinics and surrogacy agencies to get clarity on their future.
Ghatkopar-based IVF expert Dr Ankit Savla told The Indian Express that in a day at least three surrogate mothers visited him after the Union Cabinet gave its nod to the draft Bill.
The ones most affected, apart from intending parents, are women from lower economic strata who eyed this procedure as a major source of livelihood. For Salima Khan (28), whose husband Jamal manages to earn Rs 4,000 per month as a tailor in the central suburbs, surrogacy helped her gather finances for her son’s education and to run the family in 2015.
“If given a chance, I would do it again,” she says. According to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines, a woman can become a surrogate once if she already has two children and twice if she has one child. Salima has a nine-year-old boy to look after along with her mother-in-law.
“Earlier I had to go out for work. When I became a surrogate, I could stay at home and take care of my son. The tension to earn has reduced,” she said. She was paid Rs 3.5 lakh and provided food supplements from the fourth month of pregnancy to keep her healthy.
Like her, Ankita Solanki (27) opted for surrogacy after her alcoholic husband stopped earning money.
“He would come home and beat me every night. We have two small children and I am not educated to apply for a job anywhere,” she said. Ankita’s friend, also a surrogate mother, suggested her about this procedure. She discussed it with her in-laws and underwent all medical tests. She is now seven months pregnant, carrying a baby for a Mumbai-based couple at the Global Surrogacy India IVF Centre.
“I have met them, they are very nice people. My food intake has also increased after I turned pregnant,” she said.
According to her, the government decision to ban commercial surrogacy will affect several poor women like her who hope to earn when no other option is available. The amount for her food is transferred to her account by the IVF clinic. A regular check-up is also done once every fortnight.
Another surrogate mother, Priya Solanki (23), was able to buy a small hutment in Titwala through the money she earned from surrogacy.
“I would not have been able to earn so much to buy a house if not for this. Child birth is a natural process and I required only 15 days’ hospitalisation after a C-section to recover. Now I am fine,” she said.
She lives in Mankhurd with her husband, a construction worker, and two children aged nine and six years. She delivered last year in November for a foreign couple she has met only once.
“They could not speak Hindi. But after delivery when I met them I realised how happy I have made them by doing this,” she said. She came to know about surrogacy through an agent and contacted Gynaec World in Kemps Corner.
Now, she has been urging other women like her to consider this option. “It is not a crime. I understood everything about it for a year before deciding to become a surrogate,” she added.
With the government now planning to allow only altruistic surrogacy, gynaecologist Dr Duru Shah said, “The only outcome we will need to look at will be on how many women will agree to bear someone’s child for nine months for altruistic reasons without any advantage?”