Indian children born through surrogacy risk being left stateless following a legal change.
Now, those seeking to have a child via surrogacy with the help of an Indian woman require a medical visa. The Indian government has said it will only issue such a visa to a man and a woman who have been married for at least two years.
The sudden change has left many expectant parents awaiting the birth of their babies in breach of Indian law.
The Australian coverage includes personal accounts of the anguish the change has brought. One such story is that of Paul Taylor-Burn and his partner, Josh, who live in
. Perth, Western Australia
"When we went [to
] in July, we were under the impression that everything was absolutely fine. You [could] enter into this as a gay man with absolutely no restrictions on what we were doing," Mr Taylor-Burn said. India
They now find themselves operating outside Indian law.
Mr Taylor-Burn: "We know that we don't meet the new criteria. We know our contracts have been signed after the cut-off date, but we don't really know what's going to happen."
"I think the biggest worry is really: what's going to happen when we get there? Are the babies going to actually get their visas to exit the country? What can happen? Is there any possibility of the babies not being able to leave? Are we potentially going to be prosecuted?"
Ironically, the recent change was in part motivated by cases where surrogate babies born to gay parents were unable to leave
India because countries such as Germany, Italy and refused to grant the children citizenship. Japan
Attempting to justify the change, Dr Ranjana Kumari from
’s Centre for Social Research said the law was put in place for the safety of the children. India
"There have been reports of gay couples coming and taking children. There have been reports of single parents coming and taking children," she said.
"[It's] for the safety and security of these children that the government doesn't want to be held responsible for, and especially India doesn't want to be held responsible for whatever happens to these children later in some time.
"You see, one has to understand that there are various possibilities. The possibility is that a child is produced like that who's loved by the parents and parents really want their own children, so they want to have this child.
"[The] other possibility could be that these children are misused. They are sold in the market - their organs are sold in the market. Who knows? I'm just talking about a very, very bad scenario, but it is possible."
This rather curious attempt at rationalisation seems to proceed from the logical fallacy that there is a qualitative difference between married heterosexuals seeking to have a child via surrogacy, as against a gay couple or cohabitants.
Surrogacy has always involved complicated legal issues, and international surrogacy all the more so. As the Indian situation reminds us, the legal framework continues to evolve, both here and abroad.
Those considering surrogacy – whether as commissioning parents or surrogates – should seek specialist advice as early in the process as possible. If there are potential problems with a surrogacy arrangement, early identification and management will help ensure a positive outcome.