As India bans foreign surrogacy, clinics look towards Cambodia, but what will it mean for the rights of surrogates?
Rita* tucks hungrily into a plate of steaming white rice, daal (lentils), a mixed-vegetable curry, yoghurt and a green salad.
Her just-washed hair is gathered at the nape of her neck in a loose bun and the bold, flower print of her tunic stretches out over her heavily pregnant belly. She sits cross-legged on the bed in her sunny room in the yellow surrogate house, just off the main road on the outskirts of Gurgaon, a hub of domestic and international businesses and sparkling malls and eateries bordering New Delhi.
Rita is one of the last surrogates in India carrying a child for a foreign couple. In October last year, when Rita was around five months pregnant, the Indian Council for Medical Research sent a notification (PDF) to all fertility clinics, ordering them “not to entertain any foreigners for availing surrogacy services in India”.
Earlier, in a written affidavit to the Supreme Court, the Indian government had confirmed it “does not support commercial surrogacy” and that the new law will have provisions to “prohibit and penalise commercial surrogacy services”. READ MORE