Hyderabad, Telangana: Shrushti is a surrogate mother in Sai Kiran Infertility Clinic in Hyderabad. She is among 50 women whose fate is hanging in balance after the Telangana health authorities raided the facility over the weekend.
“Why the raid? Are we criminals? Are we indulging in something illegal? Did we loot or cause harm to anyone? All we did is to carry someone’s baby in our womb, hoping to help our own children,” said Shrushti from Delhi’s Govindpuri area.
Shrushti has a seven-year-old biological child and felt earning money through surrogacy was an opportunity. “Even if I toil for years I can’t get this kind of money,” she said.
“Why is the government dictating what I should do or not do,” she asked.
Another surrogate mother Mamtha is a widow. She told NDTV that she agreed to be a surrogate as she could not afford medical treatment for her son who has a problem in his hearing. Her two children, 5 and 3, are with her at the facility.
“I earn Rs 5,000 a month. For a poor person like me, Rs 3.5 lakh is a lot of money,” said Mamtha, adding, “I don’t have a husband. My child is unwell and needs treatment. My children are allowed here with me. I and my children are looked after well.”
She said that all she is looking for is to deliver the baby and go back home.
“I was hoping to get my son treated and start a small business with the money”
“I am a widow. What will people in my village say if they see me pregnant,” she asked.
The clinic, which has been operating from Jubilee hills in the city for past seven years, has been issued a show cause notice with regards to the ultrasound scanning they carry out. They have been given a week to reply.
Dr Samit Sekhar, chief embryologist and executive director of Sai Kiran Infertility Centre said that they have all the required permissions from the Centre and state government to run the Assisted Reproductive Technology Centre to carry out IVF procedures and surrogacy clinic.
“Turmoil for mother, commissioning parents and doctors could have been avoided had there been a clear law which says what we can do and what we cannot,” Dr Sekhar told NDTV.
It is important to be legally right but to meet all ethical expectations is difficult, he said.
As part of the agreement between the surrogate mother, commissioning parents and the doctor, the women are in the facility for close to a year. This period includes conception, pregnancy, delivery and hand over of the baby.
Monica, 35, is five months pregnant and would not like to step out till she delivers the baby. What worries her is the fact that if the facility is sealed due to legal issues, they may get shifted out.
“My mother knows what I am doing. I have a daughter who is 10 years old. For her education and marriage I need the money,” said Monica.
I am told that I will get Rs 10,000 every month and Rs 3.5 lakh after one year. So I told my mother that I will come home after handing over the baby and getting the money.
“I can’t go home with my pregnancy. What will my daughter think about me?” she said.
After the raids, important concerns have risen on what will happen to the babies, the money that the women were promised as part of an agreement and confidentiality.
While surrogacy is still legal in the country, thousands of clinics operate under a shroud of secrecy. The reason is not just confidentiality issue, but also the Surrogacy Bill which is still pending in the Parliament. If passed, it will put a ban on commercial surrogacy in India. The proposed bill also warrants that only needy infertile couples can go for altruistic surrogacy, that too on strict regulations.