We have mentioned it before on this trip, but it bears repeating. India has no real laws at this time regarding surrogacy – only guidelines. And there are two governing bodies that have stepped in to make statements on these guidelines. There is the medical board, and the homeland board. Up to this time the medical board has been the overseer. And while there aren’t real laws, they pretty much are taken as such. The foreign embassies (of countries that allow surrogacy) recognize it, the Indian government recognizes it, and the clinics do too. But in the past year the homeland office has stepped in and the new guidelines require Intended Parents be legally married for at least two years before entering into a surrogacy contract, that they be from a country that will allow the babies to gain a passport in the home country. Therefore, the gay community, which has been pursuing surrogacy in India for years, is now excluded – no matter what country they come from. Previously, IPs could use a tourist visa, but now the guidelines require that they acquire a medical visa – which requires they disclose that they are pursuing surrogacy. So if you were thinking of going around the guidelines it’s going to be pretty hard. Many of the doctors and lawyers we spoke to hoped that it would be overturned or readdressed in the next 2 to 4 months, and we’re hoping that too. So, while there we took some time to Skype with Hari G. Ramasubramanian and talk about some of these issues.
Hari is a partner in India Surrogacy Law Centre. They specialize in laws relating to human reproductive sciences. While they are not necessarily holding your hand through out a surrogacy they are there to consult with before signing a contract and these are they guys you want to speak to if you run into trouble – that is their specialty. One of the things they do best is assess risks and do a legal audit –they want to make sure you can get your baby out of India and to your home country with you. They will also review your surrogacy agreement before you sign it.
Hari, like many others worry about the ethical practices in India. Like anywhere in the world, the negative stories are the ones the filter out into the world – not the hundreds, if not thousands of good stories. There are issues of doctors giving babies that don’t have a biological connection to the IPs – unbeknownst to them (but hey, what about the doctor in Orange County that used his own sperm), or doctors claiming miscarriages and demanding new fees from IPs when there was never a pregnancy, or the doctor that claims the GS needs medical care immediately with new funds being wired or the baby will die. All the things that nightmares are made of – but Hari assured us that this was the exception rather than the rule – and his firm is one that is specializing in cleaning things up.
Hari was smart and thoughtful and if I ever had a problem I would absolutely want him on my side. His feeling was surrogacy is still an emerging market and there are bugs to work out and bumps to overcome – but there are ethical people looking out for both the GSs and IPs, and for those eligible to do surrogacy in India, it is still a relatively low-risk venture with many ethical people looking out for all of the parties involved.