Sunday, January 6, 2008

Wombs for Rent - Toxic babies ?

What are the implications of outsourcing pregnancy to a foreign country - wombs for rent ?

An Associated Press Story that appears in the Insight Section of Sunday's Columbus (OH) Dispatch touches on some of these issues, but leaves many others untouched -- what if your baby is being harbored by an expectant mother being exposed to environmental risks in countries where such hazards are less regulated than the U.S.? India had Bhopal and China is an environmental disaster waiting to explode

ANAND, India -- Every night in this quiet western Indian city, 15 pregnant women prepare for sleep in the spacious house they share, ascending the stairs in a procession of ballooned bellies, to bedrooms that become a landscape of soft hills.

A team of maids, cooks and doctors looks after the women, who are pregnant with the children of infertile couples from around the world.

The small clinic at Kaival Hospital matches infertile couples with local women, cares for the women during pregnancy and delivery, and counsels them afterward. Anand's surrogate mothers, pioneers in the growing field of outsourced pregnancies, have given birth to roughly 40 babies.

More than 50 women in this city are pregnant with the children of couples from the United States, Taiwan, Britain and beyond. The women earn more than many would make in 15 years. But the program raises a host of questions that touch on morals and modern science, exploitation and globalization, and that most natural of desires: to have a family.

Dr. Nayna Patel, the woman behind Anand's baby boom, defends her work.

"There is this one woman who desperately needs a baby and cannot have her own child without the help of a surrogate. And at the other end there is this woman who badly wants to help her (own) family," Patel said. "If this female wants to help the other one … why not allow that? … It's not for any bad cause. They're helping one another to have a new life in this world."

Experts say commercial surrogacy -- also called "wombs for rent" -- is growing in India. While no reliable numbers track such pregnancies, doctors work with surrogates in virtually every major city. The women are impregnated using the eggs and sperm of couples unable to conceive on their own.

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