The government of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has released a draft of a bill regulating the controversial surrogacy industry. The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 proposes a complete ban on commercial surrogacy, which would be a huge blow to the rapidly growing industry. It also restricts the clients of surrogate mothers to Indian citizens residing in India who are married but infertile; unmarried couples, single parents, and homosexuals would not be eligible. Only altruistic surrogacy will be allowed and clients would only be able to compensate women for their expenses. The surrogate must also be a close relative of the commissioning couple.
The government would become more involved with the creation of a National Surrogacy Board and surrogacy boards in the states as well.
Journalist Pinki Virani, author of the recent book Politics Of The Womb: The Perils Of IVF, Surrogacy & Modified Babies, welcomed a possible ban:
I support this complete stopping of commercial surrogacy because it favours none. There are many who are vocal about this, especially among India’s middle-class. They may not have the right words to articulate it but they do instinctively understand that to allow commercial surrogacy is to streamline a system where their own college-going daughters and sisters, their working wives, can get sucked into it with horrific physical and mental health consequences.A favourite story for the Indian media in recent years has been Bollywood stars commissioning surrogates, a practice which Ms Virani condemns as the glamorisation of surrogacy by “certain sections of permanently-patriarchal Bollywood even as it wears the mask of modernity”. The parents are indifferent to the “acute hormonal violence, the onslaught on another woman’s womb, hyper-medicalised, to produce a son”.
Sunday, April 2, 2017
Here’s something very odd. Back in 2015 terrifying news came from Brazil about an epidemic of microcephaly – babies born with very small heads and brain damage. It seemed to be associated with the mosquito-borne Zika virus. Neighbouring countries prepared for the spread of Zika with a sense of dread. Lobby groups urged relaxation of abortion restrictions.
But how often in the past six months have we heard about the Zika virus and microenphaly? A graph on Google trends shows that it has dropped off the media’s radar. With good reason – there has been no epidemic of microcephaly. The experts expected 1,000 cases, but there were only about 100.
Nobody knows why this is. There is an association between Zika and microcephaly, but it must be more complicated than scientists first thought. An article in the NEJM this week reports the good and canvases a number of explanations. It may be that for microencephaly to occur, a woman needs to contract both Zika and Dengue fever.
Perhaps there is a lesson here – however bad the news is, DON'T PANIC!! In particular, there is no need to push for changes in abortion legislation before we know all the facts...
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