Transnational commercial gestational surrogacy: cultural constructions of motherhood and their role in the development of national Indian guidelines

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The advent of advanced reproductive technologies has sparked a number of ethical concerns regarding the practices of reproductive tourism and commercial gestational surrogacy. In the past few decades, reproductive tourism

The advent of advanced reproductive technologies has sparked a number of ethical concerns regarding the practices of reproductive tourism and commercial gestational surrogacy. In the past few decades, reproductive tourism has become a global industry in which individuals or couples travel, usually across borders, to gain access to reproductive services. This marketable field has expanded commercial gestational surrogacy--defined by a contractual relationship between an intending couple and gestational surrogate in which the surrogate has no genetic tie to fetus--to take on transnational complexities. India has experienced extreme growth due to a preferable combination of western educated doctors and extremely low medical costs. However, a slew of ethical issues have been brought to the forefront: the big ones manifesting as concern for reduction of a woman's worth to her reproductive capabilities along with concern for exploitation of third world women. This project will be based exclusively on literature review and serves primarily as a call for cultural competency and understanding the circumstances that gestational surrogates are faced with before implementing policy regulating commercial gestational surrogacy. The paper argues that issues of exploitation and commodification hinge on constructions of motherhood. It is critical to define and understand definitions of motherhood and how these definitions affect a woman's approach to reproduction within the cultural context of a gestational surrogate. This paper follows the case study of the Akanksha Infertility Clinic in northern India, a surrogacy clinic housing around 50 Indian surrogates. The findings of the project invokes the critical significance of narrative ethics, which help Indian surrogates construct the practice of surrogacy so that it fits into cultural comprehensions of Indian motherhood--in which motherhood is selfless, significant, and shared.