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Womb Rental Business Thriving in India

Poor women desperate for financial assistance are lining up alongside couples longing to conceive in a fertility clinic near New Delhi's whose owner says business is booming.

The Vancouver Sun is reporting on the thriving business of surrogacy in India where poor women can make up to $9,500 to either donate their eggs or carry a baby for couples hailing from every part of the globe. The money is more than these women can hope to make in their lifetimes and many are willing to stand in line for hours just to be considered for the "job."

The Sun interviewed Dr. Shi-vani Gour, an Indian-educated doctor who runs the Surrogacy Center India clinic just outside New Delhi. She employs 14 doctors and dozens of nurses in a first rate facility.

Couples desperate for a child pay Gour anywhere from $35,000 to $40,000 for her services.

"My hospital is an international hub and babies are born through our surrogacy arrangements almost on a daily basis," Gour said. "I make it my target that whoever comes to me with the intention of a baby, leaves with a baby."

Thus far, she is succeeding. In the past year, she has seen more than 300 babies born, with as many as half going to homosexual couples.  In just the past month of March alone, 26 babies were born and went "home" to nearly a half dozen different nations: eight went to the U.S.; one to the UK, four to Australia; two to Canada; one to Ecuador; three to Japan; two to Spain; one to Slovenia; and four who remained in India.

On a typical day in the clinic, one can find two sets of parents in the waiting rooms - the Indian women who have come to provide eggs or carry babies, and the people who want to raise those babies.

One surrogate mother, who came to the clinic with her husband, told the Sun: "We are both very happy that we will give somebody the chance to be parents. We have a child and it is the greatest thing and this is a good way to make money to care for her when she grows up."

Another woman, who is carrying a baby for a Spanish couple, said: "The process is very simple and it takes a few hours each time. I have had an egg planted in me and I should deliver the baby on July 13. They don't tell us the sex of the child, but I feel it is a girl. I am seven months' pregnant  . . . . I think this is a very nice thing for everybody involved. They [the Spanish couple] get their child and me, the egg donor and the hospital make some money," she said. "It is a business, but it brings so much happiness to so many people and I see nothing wrong with that. Many of the women I have spoken to are happy with the arrangements. Although we are careful not to tell anybody, except for our closest, as people can still give you trouble and say it is against God's will."

There is a risk of stigma in India for providing these services, which is why surrogates must be very discreet, but the chance of earning five times the national average annual salary is enough to make many poor women risk the possible social scars along with other risks inherent in the practice. 

For instance, the process can be so difficult for these women that psychological counseling services are provided for each. They are also given a year's free accommodation in Delhi and all the prenatal medical care they will need to bring the baby to birth.

Gour realizes that her work is considered morally objectionable by many, but she sees nothing wrong with it. "I would say to those people who call what we do immoral, that I feel very sorry for you. God bless you, but you are ignorant.

"Come and spend a few months here and speak to parents who are so desperate and feel cursed by childlessness and see their ecstasy and see the men and women fulfilling their dreams here on a daily basis."

While the Church has great compassion for those struggling to conceive, it has wisely forbidden both homologous and heterologous surrogacy in its 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, and the 1987 statement by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith entitled Donum Vitae.

Homologous surrogacy occurs when in vitro fertilization (IVF) is used to unite a woman's egg with another man's sperm; and artificial insemination when the surrogate mother is both the genetic mother and the birth, or gestational mother, of the child. In heterologous surrogacy, embryos are sometimes implanted in the uterus other than that of the wife - a so-called "surrogate mother.

The Church believes these practices are wrong for a variety of reasons.

First, because they distort the true meaning of sexual intercourse, which is the mutual giving of partner to partner and is the proper context in which a child, who is a gift from God, should be conceived.

In the case of paid surrogacy, not only are poor women preyed upon in the practice, but they are also reduced to a kind of prostitution in which they sell or rent their bodies to a client.

Additionally, the means by which this surrogacy takes place, IVF, also involves the killing of untold numbers of embryos who either don't survive the process or who are deliberately destroyed as being "sub-par."

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