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Desperate Canadians Resort to the World's Baby Farms
Inside two special houses in the Indian state of Gujarat, the women spend their time waiting. They live together, eat meals together and take sewing, cooking and English classes together: 67 surrogates whose bellies bulge with the babies of foreign couples, including Canadians.
Tiny, 26-year old Vandana is pregnant again. In 2008 she delivered twin girls for a New Brunswick couple. Vandana worked as a roadside labourer breaking stones at construction sites for up to 12 hours a day, for which she earned about $2 daily for her labours. According to the clinic that employs her, she bought a house with the money the doctors paid her — about $7,000 — for becoming impregnated with the Canadian embryos.
Another surrogate, Smita, paid for her daughter's schooling with the rupees she made bearing twins — a boy and girl — for another couple from Canada.
"We have helped many Canadian patients," says Dr. Nayana Patel, medical director of the Akanksha IVF Center in Anand, Gujarat.
Benhur Samson is helping Canadians procure surrogates, too. The Chicago-based, Indian-born entrepreneur runs Surrogacy Abroad Inc. His all-inclusive, $36,000 U.S. international surrogacy package covers services from psychological screening of surrogates to exit visas for the babies. Samson says he assisted four Canadian couples in bringing babies home from India last year; he's currently working with "25 to 30" more.
Six years after Canada outlawed the buying and selling of human eggs and sperm and the "renting" of women's wombs, a new international baby-making business is flourishing. It's being called "reproductive tourism," a global industry in which more and more infertile Canadians are seeking fertility services abroad that would carry fines of up to $500,000 and 10 years in jail at home.
Infertile Canadians are travelling to India to pay surrogates to carry their children and to Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Romania and the Czech republic for in vitro fertilization using paid donor eggs — a desperation to reproduce that's colliding with the ethical and moral issues surrounding the commercialization of life and the potential exploitation of women mired in poverty in the developing world.