Some of the 47 women in a Hyderabad clinic / NDTVEfforts to ban commercial surrogacy in India are hitting one speed bump after another. At the moment, despite lobbying from IVF clinics, the government has banned the practice for overseas clients. However, there is still a thriving business in local surrogacy.
A Surrogacy Regulation Bill was introduced into the national parliament last November, but little progress has been made. In fact, it might be killed altogether by combining it with another bill for regulating assisted reproduction.
Surrogacy scandals about "baby factories" are still making headlines in India. In mid-June police raided a fertility clinic in an up-market suburb in Hyderabad and found 47 pregnant women living a two-storey dwelling. The clinic did not allow them to leave the building until they had delivered their babies. “The women were all huddled in one large room and had access to just one bathroom,” a police officer told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
A few days later, police raided several buildings in another city in Telangana state and found, according to the local media, 120 pregnant women. The managing director of Padmaja Fertility Centre -- who apparently had engaged all the women -- declared that all the rules for surrogacy had been followed. Police did not lay charges.
Pinki Virani, an activist who recently wrote a book on assisted reproduction, has urged the government to speed up regulation:
... the government of India, and the states, awaiting a comprehensive surrogacy law, cannot afford to be sitting around while more surrogacy rackets come to light, like the recent one in Hyderabad's upmarket Banjara Hills, where multiples of pregnant women were being held. Since scant records were being maintained at these so-called surrogacy centres, we don't even know if some of the intending babies from those victims of human trafficking were actually meant to be sold for the internet-infant-porn market.
Saturday, August 5, 2017
We have a number of very important stories this week: a paper in Nature about gene-editing human embryos, a rise in euthanasia figures in the Netherlands, some appalling news about commercial surrogacy in India... plus a great interview with Yale bioethicist Lydia S. Dugdale about death and dying.
But, for better or worse, this is a day for shameless self-promotion. Sorry. I have just published a book, The Great Human Dignity Heist, a collection of short essays on topics ranging from IVF to paleo-archaeology to polio epidemics to euthanasia and cannibalism. Its lurid sub-title is How bioethicists are trashing the foundations of Western civilization.
If you live in Sydney, you are invited to a book launch at 1pm on this coming Thursday, August 10, at Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney. Professor Margaret Somerville will be the main speaker. (RSVP to email@example.com.)
And of course, if you cannot make it, feel free to order a book online
In Australia from the publisher, Connor Court
In the US and Canada from Amazon (feel free to leave a review of the book!)
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