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India: Crusade against Surrogacy

April 20, 2017

In India, Catholics are rallying to thwart the recent bill on surrogacy.

But the recent victory of the Hindu nationalist party at the general elections, known for their support of this unnatural law, may herald in new struggles against the background of a war of religions. It has been almost ten years since India became one of the key destinations for couples looking for a surrogate, mostly thanks to the high number of potential surrogate mothers and the rather attractive “prices”, given that 55% of Indians live on the threshold of poverty. Several thousand Indian or foreign couples – 2,000 a year according to government statistics – have used surrogacy in this way to have children. According to a survey conducted by the United Nations, there exist in India 3,000 discreetly named “fertility” clinics that specialize in surrogacy, and this lucrative commerce produces a revenue of almost 400 million dollars a year.

The latest law to date, proposed by the BJP – the Hindu and anti-Christian nationalist party that just triumphantly won the last general elections in March – plans to put limits on surrogacy, forbidding it when for a fee, but allowing “altruistic” surrogacy on very specific conditions. According to the terms in the text, only heterosexual couples, married for a minimum of five years and who have had no children will be able to have recourse to a surrogate mother. This latter can no longer be paid.

All financial transactions are to be forbidden, except to cover medical expenses. Surrogate mothers will only be allowed to carry another couple’s child or children once in their lives, and must have already had at least one child of their own. Finally, one of the major novelties of the text lies in the fact that surrogacy will only be allowed within a “close” family circle: the surrogate mother and the couple requesting surrogacy will have to be “closely related”.

Whatever the restrictions, this bill constitutes “a direct attack on the sacred values of the institution of marriage, on the family, on the dignity of women, and the natural rights of children”. Such is the courageous declaration of the Forum of Priests and Religious Lawyers, that restates their complete refusal of surrogacy, recalling that this practice goes against nature and is nothing more than “a way of renting women and buying children”.

In this bill, explains the Forum, “a woman’s womb and the gift of her reproductive ability, but also the rights of children, are treated like merchandise and placed on the market. The right of a child, who is carried and nourished for nine months, is treated like raising a cow whose superior quality or quantity is evaluated. Femininity becomes insignificant and woman is considered as a sort of mailman. The psychological and ethical dimensions are completely ignored”.

The Forum also points out “gestation on behalf of others” violates the natural right of a child to be raised by his biological mother and concludes: “With advances in reproductive technology and the capitalist mentality, we have come to consider a woman’s uterus as a simple recipient, a breeding ground in which to grow a little plant before transplanting it into another field so it can continue growing”.

On the grounds of these reflections, the Forum asks the government for a complete and unconditional interdiction of surrogacy in India; but what will be the weight of this request, given the nationalist Hindu and anti-Christian tidal wave that has just overwhelmed the Indian continent?

Sources : Fides / La Croix - April 19, 2017