MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - India is on the verge of banning commercial surrogacy, an industry estimated to be worth as much as $2.3 billion annually, in its next parliamentary session starting in February.
The Indian surrogacy industry has been criticised by rights groups who say it puts vulnerable women at risk. The government believes a ban will check unethical practices.
Yet some Indian women are now rushing for a final chance to make around 400,000 rupees ($5,900) from being a surrogate mother.
If passed the legislation in India would ban commercial surrogacy, but allow altruistic surrogacy for married Indian couples medically proven to be infertile. Singles and gay couples will not be allowed to seek the service.
India banned foreign nationals from seeking surrogacy in 2015, a year after the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child said that commercial surrogacy, if not regulated, amounts to the sale of children.
Here’s a look at laws in different parts of the world:
* For-profit surrogacy is banned in Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, the UK and Australia (except for the Northern Territory which has no laws on the matter), but they all allow some forms of altruistic surrogacy.
* Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain prohibit all forms of surrogacy.
* There is no legislation concerning surrogacy at the federal level in the United States, and some states allow commercial surrogacy arrangements.
* For-profit surrogacy flourished in Thailand until 2015 when the country banned it for foreigners after a series of high-profile cases, including an Australian couple who were accused of abandoning a baby born with Down’s syndrome.
* Georgia and Ukraine have now emerged as the next surrogacy hubs as there are no laws or rules so far governing the sector, surrogacy agencies told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
* Surrogacy is allowed in Russia, which is considered one of the most permissive countries for the practice.
* Cambodia had no laws regarding surrogacy, but it cracked down on agencies in 2016.
Sources: Reuters, European Parliament, The Parentage/Surrogacy Project of Hague Conference on Private International Law
Reporting by Roli Srivastava; Editing by Ed Upright. Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org