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Times of India
14 July 2010
By Sumitra Deb Roy
Mumbai, India

Jury Out On Whether Industry Will Be Affected By European Consulates’ Censure
Illegal IVF practices give the rest of us a bad name: Docs
Clinics are divided over whether the notification from consul generals of eight European countries asking them to stop catering to their citizens will make a dent in the thriving multi-crore surrogacy industry. While some clinics do cater to a large number of European nationals, others say their clients are from countries such as the US where surrogacy is widely practised.

“Most of our clientele for all our clinics are from countries like the US, the UK, and Australia, etc where surrogacy is accepted,”said Dr Yashodhara Mhatre, fertility physician at Surrogacyindia.com. The losses, she said, will be marginal. But the move is in keeping with the Indian Council of Medical Research’s guidelines whereby a foreigner should get a no-objection letter from his or her consulate before going ahead with the surrogacy programme in any ICVF clinic.

According to gynaecologist Dr Duru Shah, there will definitely be economic losses.“Lately, citizens from European countries have been coming to India so restrictions will definitely eat into financial gains,”she said. The medical community, however, is unanimous in its opinion that the notification sent by the European consulates will definitely help clamp down on illegal commercial surrogacy, where clinics allegedly cater to clients knowing fully well that such a practice is illegal in their country.

Medico legal consultant and surrogacy expert Amit Karkhanis said:“Unethical practices should be rooted out before more countries start questioning what I believe is a highly efficient surrogacy market just because there are a few rotten apples,”he said. According to Mhatre stakeholders are working towards more ensuring that there is more accountability at the clinic’s end. The letter highlights a growing need to bring legal order to the industry, say experts.“The Indian g ove rnment should frame laws as soon as possible and regulate the booming medical tourism industry so that no fingers are pointed at us,”said an industry insider who did not wish to be named.“Many countries are not amused that India has the lion’s share in the global surrogacy market,”he added.

There’s no denying that the profit margins are huge. For instance, in the US, a patient would typically pay anywhere between $1,50,000 and $2,20,000 for the procedure, while in the India, the cost rarely goes over Rs 7 lakh.“Even the hospitality industry stands to gain from medical tourism. But the notification was the need of the hour. After all, no one wants to see nationals from other countries stranded in a foreign land,”Karkhanis added.

Surrogacy laws in europe
Germany| Surrogacy is banned. The laws say that no medical practitioner should perform artificial insemination or embryo donation on a woman who is willing to hand the child over to commissioning parents upon birth. Non-compliance is a criminal offence amounting to fine or imprisonment

Italy | Surrogacy is prohibited

Czech republic| Biological mothers are not guaranteed parental rights to a child born to a surrogate. The surrogate mother could gain custody of the child she carries and delivers. The legal system permits surrogate motherhood, but has no law dealing specifically with the issue

Spain|Spanish law considers surrogacy as illegal. So, if couples have a child through surrogacy in some other country, they are not registered as Spanish citizens and need a visa to come to Spain

Netherlands| Commercial surrogacy is banned, but not altruistic ones

Poland | There are no clear laws on surrogacy. Surrogate mothers undergo rigorous medical examinations, including genetic tests

France| French law strictly prohibits the recourse to surrogate mothers and makes it mandatory to obtain the permission of the Judiciary prior to registering children in the national Register of Births

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