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223 Conclusion When I conducted my fieldwork in 2010, it was a particularly interesting time in the growth of transnational surrogacy in India. By then the practice had gained widespread media attention in India and around the globe, and clinics were working to adjust their practices as they received more international clients. The increasing visibility of the surrogacy industry brought renewed scrutiny as the broader public read about “stateless babies” (Mahapatra 2008) in the media and tragic reports of women like Sushma Pandey, who died after donating eggs (Cook 2012; Janwalkar 2012), and Premila Vaghela, who died after delivering a premature son for a U.S. couple (Times of India 2012a). This attention eventually led to the 2008, 2010, and 2012 Draft ART (Regulation) Bill and Rules in India’s parliament. I returned to Mumbai in the winter of 2013 to find that much had changed in India’s surrogacy landscape. Earlier that year the Indian government ’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) took its first step toward regulating surrogacy by requiring special medical visas of all intended parents who travel to India. However, these surrogacy visas stipulated that gay couples, single men and women, nonmarried couples, and people from countries where surrogacy was prohibited were ineligible. Visas would only be granted to heterosexual married couples who had been married for at least two years and who hailed from countries where surrogacy was legal. As the Draft Bill languished in parliament, the MHA’s visa requirement prompted much debate about the priorities and desired impact of regulation. While women continued to face physical risks in the treatments associated with surrogacy, many wondered why the government was policing the sexuality of parents who traveled to India (Roy 2013). Indeed, the composition of commissioning clients traveling to India changed swiftly. While India had previously emerged as a key destination for gay couples and single intended parents, the medical visa re- 224 | Conclusion quirement, as one doctor stated, had caused “a big blow to everyone’s international work.” Third-party surrogacy brokers whose client rosters consisted of primarily gay couples and individuals scrambled to find new surrogacy destinations in other Asian countries (Bhowmick 2013). Doctors circumvented the visa requirement by opening clinics or hospitals in neighboring Nepal, where Indian and Nepali surrogates would give birth, while commissioning parents ventured to countries with lax regulations such as Thailand. As the global movements of people seeking surrogacy shifted from one country to another, governments found themselves playing “catch up” as they responded to demands to regulate a rapidly growing industry. Several high-profile scandals focused attention on the unregulated surrogacy industry in Thailand (Fuller 2014), for instance, prompting the government to act swiftly and enact laws prohibiting commercial surrogacy for foreigners (Phillip 2015). While global shifts in the surrogacy industry rerouted many commissioning clients to other countries, the domestic market for surrogacy services in India underwent significant changes too. As one doctor updated me on her practice, she explained that while she saw a decrease in international clients, her business had not suffered: “My clients are half and half now: half international and half Indian.” She went on to describe how high-profile Indian actors and celebrities had helped prompt the increasing awareness and acceptance of surrogacy in India: After Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan did surrogacy, I think people became more open to the idea. I had a friend, actually, who I used to run with. He and his wife were seeing an IVF specialist for a long time and couldn’t get pregnant. Eventually they decided to come to me [to try surrogacy]. They came here, we did the procedure, and suddenly they get pregnant. So the wife came to me and said, “I was thinking of doing this whole thing, where you can get one of those devices that makes you look pregnant, to falsify your own pregnancy. . . . But you know what, if Shah Rukh Khan can do it, I can do it. So what’s wrong with [doing surrogacy]?” After their surrogate gave birth to twins, the couple announced to their friends and family that they had hired a surrogate, an announcement Conclusion | 225 clearly influenced by the increased attention brought to surrogacy by such well-known actors. But the visa restrictions coupled with the increase in awareness affected the options available to would-be surrogates as well. While Antara reported encountering an increase in domestic couples in her work as an agent, she also noted that this shift negatively...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781479849574
Related ISBN
9781479804214
MARC Record
OCLC
954220519
Pages
288
Launched on MUSE
2016-12-06
Language
English
Open Access
No
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