Surrogacy industry in India: donors are poor and have no other way to earn money

Publié le 12 Jul, 2018

Most egg donors in India are poor and the money they earn from selling their eggs is much higher than any other option they have to make money. “Many women do this work because they have no other way to earn money”, Savitri coldly explains. She is responsible for recruiting future egg donors and surrogate mothers.


She herself first “donated” her eggs at 21 and then became a surrogate for others. She had a very bad experience. “To give away the child was emotionally disturbing and my own son was also disturbed. My son was young and he lived with me in the house [of the future parents]. He still asks me where his younger sister is”. Egg donation is also unpleasant; injections are painful.


Savitri is now a recruiter—a more comfortable arrangement as she receives a commission for each candidate ready to sell eggs or be a surrogate, but “it can be a fiercely competitive business, where loyalty is commanded only by money”. Stealing eggs to resell them for more money in another clinic, last-minute abortions if a better paying surrogacy arrangement is found in the meantime… “Some doctors cheat surrogates and donors and sometimes the donors do it to the doctor. No one here is for charity”. Women are hard to convince, and their husbands even harder—but when they realise how much money is at stake, they are the ones who push their wives to undergo the procedure.


Donors are put into two categories: educated donors are more expensive, non-graduate donors cheaper. The latter have the option of taking IQ tests, and are encouraged by fertility clinics. Couples willing to pay extra can visit the donor, as they believe that “they might get some sense about the quality of the donor’s genes”. Most couples want the donor to be “white and beautiful”, even if it means paying even more.


Fertility clinic marketing campaigns want to make the process look easy, but Rakhi Ghoshal, an editor at the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, calls out this lie: “The limitations, success rate and the physical, emotional and financial distress of people undergoing these procedures needs to be spoken about and communicated to society”. Few couples using surrogacy are aware of the risks for donors. And the same is true for donors… Over-stimulating the ovaries can have medical consequences.  Current studies are looking into whether women who take hormones for these procedures are at a higher risk of developing cancer. One parliamentary bill would require donors be informed of the possible consequences of egg donation.

Bioethics (20/06/2018) –

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