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Why People Are Angry About India’s New Surrogacy Rules

A new government regulation has left 28-year-old Sunita Devi worried about the future of the baby she is carrying. Devi, who is already showing at five months, is a surrogate mother carrying the child of a single Canadian man.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

19th April 2013 11:23

Alessia Valenza | ILGA Asia

India’s Home Ministry circulated a memo ate last year to Indian missions abroad, stipulating that gay couples, single men and women, nonmarried couples and couples from countries where surrogacy is illegal be prohibited from hiring a commercial surrogate in India. As of an unspecified date, foreigners who want to hire a surrogate must be a “man and woman,” the new rule says, “[who] are duly married and the marriage should be sustained at least two years.” Now Devi is worried that the child she is carrying can be ultimately handed over to its Canadian father. “I will be carrying this baby for nine months,” she says. “But what if after I give birth, it doesn’t get a home?”

It’s a question that doesn’t have an official answer at the moment. The new regulations have not only raised questions over the future of many babies-in-the-making but also present a major blow to India’s $2.5 billion surrogacy industry. Each year, an estimated 25,000 foreign couples visit India for surrogacy services, resulting in more than 2,000 births. Surrogacy is a bargain in India — running anywhere from $18,000 to $30,000, the service is roughly a third of the U.S. price — and the traditionally lax regulations surrounding the industry have made it a popular destination for couples from countries where surrogacy is not legal, including several European nations and most of Australia. “India was a wonderful hub for surrogacy,” says Doron Mamet, owner of, an Israel-based agency that has been sending couples to India for surrogacy services since 2008. “The combination of excellent medical facilities and attractive cost brought couples from all over the world.”

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