Britons are paying Indian women to become surrogate mothers, it has emerged. There are now up to a 1,000 unregulated clinics in India, while many of them specialising in helping Britons to become parents.
Couples and single parents are paying an average of £25,000 pounds (Rs 21 lakh) a visit to have children in India, as commercial surrogacy is illegal in the United Kingdom.
It has emerged that an estimated 2,000 births through surrogate mothers took place in India last year. Most experts agree that Britain is the biggest single source of people who want to become parents through surrogacy.
Indian authorities now believe the surrogacy industry to be worth as much as £1.5 billion each year, and add that it needs regulating urgently. Women in India are being paid up to £6,000 (Rs 5.2 lakh) to donate eggs and carry babies, something British women are banned from doing.
Bankers, senior civil servants, executives at multinational companies and even NHS doctors have become parents through surrogacy in India, British doctors reveal.
The country’s leading infertility expert, Dr Radhey Sharma, who was commissioned by the Indian Government to study the boom in fertility treatments in preparation for a legislation to regulate the industry, said nobody in the country actually knew the scale of the “baby factories”.
He believes the industry ‘dwarfs any in the rest of the world’. “Nobody in India actually knows for sure how many babies are born through these commercial enterprises and how many places are involved.
I have the database of some 600 IVF clinics in India, but that is not a complete list. There could be around 400 more clinics operating without any regulation,” he revealed. Regulating the surrogacy industry in India would effectively block the British from becoming parents through surrogacy.
Rs 5.2 l
The amount an Indian receives for donating her eggs and carrying babies
Total worth of the Indian surrogacy industry
What the law says
Commercial surrogacy arrangements are not legal in the United Kingdom. However, it is illegal in the UK to pay more than expenses for a surrogacy, the relationship is recognised under section 30 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. A surrogate mother still maintains the legal right of determination for the child, even if they are genetically unrelated. Unless a parental order or adoption order is made the surrogate mother remains the legal mother of the child.