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Surrogate Mothers: Womb for Rent
The Akanksha clinic is at the forefront of India's booming trade in so-called reproductive tourism — foreigners coming to the country for infertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization. The clinic's main draw, however, is its success using local women to have foreigners' babies. Surrogacy costs about $12,000 in India, including all medical expenses and the surrogate's fee. In the U.S., the same procedure can cost up to $70,000.
How surrogacy came to be so popular in the choking backwater of Anand, a dairy community with a population of 150,000 in India's western state of Gujarat, is a long story. The short answer is Dr. Nayna Patel, 47, the clinic's director. A charismatic woman with flowing hair and a toothpaste-commercial smile, Patel single-handedly put Anand on the map when, in 2003, she orchestrated the surrogacy of a local woman who wanted to "lend" her womb to her U.K.-based daughter. The woman gave birth to test-tube twins — her own genetic grandchildren — and the event made headlines worldwide. Afterward, Patel was inundated with requests for surrogacy. She now has 45 surrogate mothers on her books, mostly impoverished women from nearby villages. Twenty-seven of them are currently pregnant, and each will be paid between $5000 and $7000 — the equivalent to upwards of 10 years' salary for rural Indians. More than 50 babies have been born at the clinic in the past three years, half to Westerners or Indians living overseas.
You can read more about fertility tourism in this article: