Outsourcing Gone Wild
We've outsourced computer programming and help desks to India. Even your receptionist may telecommute from Bombay to receive visitors in the lobby via big screen TV. Now they've outsourced motherhood.
For about ten thousand bucks, Western women can hire a woman in the Indian town of Anand to be a surrogate mother for her child. Couples fly in to Dr. Nayna Patel's clinic at Kaival Hospital for one-stop service in commercial surrogacy, which was legalized in India in 2002. The prospective parents are paired with a surrogate mother, one of many who volunteer, some more than once. They sign a contract to pay the surrogate, cover all her medical bills, and the mother agrees to hand over her baby. The father donates sperm which is used to impregnate the surrogate mother in-vitro. Forty babies have been completed so far with fifty more in production.
The womb-for-rent business taps a vast labor pool willing to work cheap. Women are lined up to volunteer at the clinic. The surrogate mom gets about half the ten grand paid, which is fifteen years worth of salary as a $25 per month maid. That's enough to buy a house in Anand. They're counseled to treat their pregnancy as if "someone's child comes to stay at your place for nine months."
That ten grand for an Indian surrogate is way cheaper than the $80,000 an American surrogate mother would charge. The Indian mothers are not necessarily doing the work American mothers won't do. In some cases the American women customers have been rendered infertile by such afflictions as uterine cancer.
Dr. Patel defends her commercial surrogacy clinic: "There is this one woman who desperately needs a baby and cannot have her own child without the help of a surrogate. And at the other end there is this woman who badly wants to help her (own) family. ... If this female wants to help the other one ... why not allow that? ... It's not for any bad cause. They're helping one another to have a new life in this world."
While that may be a legitimate argument, it raises the spectre of Indian baby farms, like commercial turkey farms, mass-producing cut rate infants cheaper than good, honest American labor. I never thought I'd see the day when American mothers were threatened with layoffs only to be replaced by cheaper foreign contractors making discount babies overseas, stacking them deep and selling them cheap. Will we see American nurseries shuttered like the steel mills with new babies being FedExed in from abroad using just-in-time management techniques? This is worse than the invasion of cheap Japanese cars thirty years ago. It hits home hard. Hard! My friends, it will be a sad day for America when even Americans are no longer made in America.
Labels: commercial surrogacy