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FACTBOX-Key facts about surrogate motherhood

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Surrogate motherhood is among the latest in a long list of roles being outsourced to India, where rent-a-womb services are far cheaper than in the West.

Here are some key facts about surrogate motherhood:

WHAT IS SURROGATE MOTHERHOOD?

- The term surrogate’ means ‘substitute’.

- A surrogate mother is a woman who carries a child for infertile couples, or others unable to conceive their own baby.

HOW IS IT DONE?

- In traditional surrogacy the surrogate mother is artificially inseminated with the sperm of the intended father or sperm from a donor.

- In gestational surrogacy an already-fertilized embryo from the biological parents’ or donors is transferred to the womb of the surrogate mother.

GLOBAL PICTURE:

- Surrogate motherhood is illegal in Italy, banned for commercial purposes in Australia, Spain and China, and is allowed with restrictions in the United States, France and Germany.

- India is currently framing new regulations.

ETHICAL ISSUES:

- Protecting the rights of surrogate mothers from being exploited, defining the rights of children born from surrogacy, and stopping commercialization of surrogacy are key issues.

BOOMING BUSINESS IN INDIA:

- Surrogate mothers in developed countries can charge between $20,000 and $30,000.

- Fertility clinics in India charge around $10,000 for the procedure, including the payment to the surrogate mother.

LEGAL DIFFERENCES:

- Indian medical guidelines allow doctors to implant five embryos into a surrogate mother. In Britain the maximum is two, while many European countries are moving toward a single embryo.

- India’s current laws allow the surrogate mother to sign away her rights to the baby as soon as its delivered.

- The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) estimates that the reproductive business could be a $6 billion-a-year industry soon.

Sources: Reuters; ICMR (www.icmr.nic.in); American Infertility (www.americaninfertility.org);

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