Recently, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas welcomed their first child into the world with the help of a surrogate. They took to Instagram and shared the good news, with many congratulating and blessing the child with their thoughtful message.
However, the happiness was short-lived. Soon after the couple's post went viral, several users criticised them for having a child via Surrogacy. Now, the star pair have received vitriol earlier due to the 10-year age gap.
Many trolled the actress for choosing an easy way out to welcome a child into their lives. Some even pointed out the glaring class difference, with surrogacy being a common practice undertaken by the rich and perceived as betraying the tenets of 'natural reproduction.'
The deep-rooted patriarchy in India still pits a woman's choices against others'. Even today, natural reproduction is given more weightage, whereas methods like surrogacy are frowned upon, as the child comes from someone else's womb and is considered 'illegitimate'.
Before further dissection, it is vital to understand what surrogacy is. Right from the types and the necessary legal discourse in the country, the complicated saga surrounding the method continues to get entangled in controversies even today.
Surrogacy: Assisted Reproduction
Also known as 'assisted reproduction, Surrogacy is a method that involves a third party assisting in the childbirth process. The method is preferred by women who have issues conceiving a baby or a homosexual couple. Some of the terms used in practice are 'female carrier', 'surrogate mother', 'delegation pregnancy', 'uterus location', 'surrogate mother'.
Science Direct defines it as "a procedure in which a woman accepts to carry out a pregnancy to term for a couple or another woman, either altruistically or for financial gain. She pledges to give up the child at birth, which is to be adopted by the woman who will become the legal mother."
Types Of Surrogacy
There are two main types of Surrogacy- Gestational and Traditional Surrogacy. As the name suggests, traditional Surrogacy is also called partial Surrogacy. "The surrogate mother uses her egg and is artificially inseminated using sperm from the intended father or a donor," a website called 'Surrogate.com' defines this method. As the surrogate is the legal parent, it is a person who is close to the concerned parents.
This was a popular process until modern techniques became more prevalent. However, the complications involved are both physical and emotional. The surrogate has to relinquish all her parental rights.
Nowadays, Gestational Surrogacy is preferred by many couples. Unlike the traditional counterpart, a gestational surrogate is not a biological parent. Many websites define, "Gestational surrogacy is performed by transferring embryos made through IVF with eggs from the intended mother or donor." In Vitro Fertilisation or IVF is stated by Mayo Clinic as a process when mature eggs are taken from the ovaries and fertilised by sperm. After this, it is transferred to the delegated uterus in the processes mentioned above.
Ulterior Motives Defined
Apart from the surrogacy methods, it also depends on the ulterior motive involved. Altruistic Surrogacy asks for no additional monetary compensation beyond the medical costs needed for the process.
Its exact opposite is Commercial Surrogacy. The name defines the process as providing a decided amount of money to the surrogate mother after she delivers the baby, along with the necessary reimbursement. Both methods involve a complex legal framework that lays down the measures agreed upon by the parents and the individual, irrespective of the path they take down the line.
Recently, the Central government laid down laws regarding Surrogacy and assisted reproduction in the country. The Surrogacy (Regulation) Act 2021 defines the points involved in the process. Passed on December 17, the recent development notifies a 'gestation period' for the surrogate mother.
"As per Section 53 of the Act, there is a gestation period of 10 months from the date coming into force of the aforesaid Act to existing surrogate mothers to protect their wellbeing," Business Today quotes the legislation. It will also create National Surrogacy Board and their state, Union Territory boards to regulate the process accordingly. However, the act only allows altruistic kind and prohibits Commercial Surrogacy.
A Life-Changing Moment
Over the years, Surrogacy has become a hot topic for discussion. The reproductive method is considered controversial. Recent years has seen a rise of many Indian public figures opting for the technique to welcome a child into their lives. Before Priyanka Chopra, other Bollywood biggies such as Karan Johar, Shahrukh Khan, Shilpa Shetty, Tusshar Kapoor, and others chose the process as their personal choice.
While promoting Altruistic Surrogacy may be a noble move, it remains a grey area in our society. Many people consider this process ethical as it does not commodify the child or the mother in question. However, the experiences tend to vary. Many women from the lower classes prefer the commercial kind as it provides the necessary money for sustenance. According to Feminism in India, many surrogates called it a 'positive experience' as she made a difference in some parents' lives by bringing a child into their lives and helping them in the best way possible.
Exploitative And Commodification
Like everything else in life, Surrogacy has a dark side as well. The surrogate mother tends to create an emotional bond with the child, which may make it difficult for her to give the baby away to the new parents.
Apart from the emotional complications, the misconceptions put Surrogacy on the wrong end. The method is considered taboo in our society, as it 'mocks' the natural reproductive way. Many believe that the child is not legitimate with a third party involved, despite it being the couple's personal choice to undergo the process. The misogynistic and patriarchal mindset disregards a woman's bodily choice, involving both ends.
Some even call Surrogacy a 'commodifying' alternative. The public criticises the prices involved in the entire process as it puts a price on the mother and the baby and can be misused and exploited.
Every Choice Matters
While both sides of the argument are present, the conclusion remains that it is the couple's personal choice to indulge in Surrogacy. As a country, we are proud of having privacy as a basic fundamental right. However, it is thrown out of the window once an individual exercises it in the best way possible.
A woman is allowed to make her decision. Surrogacy is not just limited to someone who cannot conceive or a homosexual couple. Everyone has the right to bring a child into their lives, even if it involves a modern kind of assistance in the process.
Also Read: Why Cervical Cancer Is Still Prevalent Among Rural Indian Women?