Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Outsourcing reproduction

The WSJ has an article on Assembling the Global Baby
"With an international network of surrogate mothers and egg and sperm donors, a new industry is emerging to produce children on the cheap and outside the reach of restrictive laws."

"In a hospital room on the Greek island of Crete with views of a sapphire sea lapping at ancient fortress walls, a Bulgarian woman plans to deliver a baby whose biological mother is an anonymous European egg donor, whose father is Italian, and whose birth is being orchestrated from Los Angeles.

"She won't be keeping the child. The parents-to-be—an infertile Italian woman and her husband (who provided the sperm)—will take custody of the baby this summer, on the day of birth.

"The birth mother is Katia Antonova, a surrogate. She emigrated to Greece from Bulgaria and is a waitress with a husband and three children of her own. She will use the money from her surrogacy to send at least one of her own children to university.

"The man bringing together this disparate group is Rudy Rupak, chief executive of LLC, a California company that searches the globe to find the components for its business line. The business, in this case, is creating babies.

"Mr. Rupak is a pioneer in a controversial field at the crossroads of reproductive technology and international adoption. Prospective parents put off by the rigor of traditional adoptions are bypassing that system by producing babies of their own—often using an egg donor from one country, a sperm donor from another, and a surrogate who will deliver in a third country to make what some industry participants call "a world baby."

"They turn to PlanetHospital and a handful of other companies. "We take care of all aspects of the process, like a concierge service," says Mr. Rupak, a 41-year-old Canadian.
"PlanetHospital's most affordable package, the "India bundle," buys an egg donor, four embryo transfers into four separate surrogate mothers, room and board for the surrogate, and a car and driver for the parents-to-be when they travel to India to pick up the baby.

"Pricier packages add services like splitting eggs from the same donor to fertilize with different sperm, so children of gay couples can share a genetic mother. In Panama, twins cost an extra $5,000; for another $6,500 you can choose a child's gender.
"Greek surrogacy is regulated by a 2005 law, but the business takes advantage of a legal loophole. Surrogate mothers are not supposed to act for profit. However, they can accept money for pregnancy-related expenses. Typically, the expenses are set at up to $50,000.

"The judge never asks" about the money, says Maria Kouloumprakis, a surrogacy lawyer in Greece. Ms. Kouloumprakis calls the situation "an emptiness in the law."

"Egg donors often come from the U.S. or Eastern European countries since white parents tend to prefer fair-skinned children. Those countries allow donor anonymity. Parents on tighter budgets might opt for a donor from India or Latin America. Sperm is often provided by the fathers-to-be, though it's also available from a network of sperm banks in the U.S. and Europe.
"Many factors drive surrogacy's global spread. China and other big adoption destinations have toughened their rules in recent years. Some developed countries, including Japan, Spain, Germany, Italy and France, outlaw or severely restrict surrogacy at home. The United Kingdom prohibits surrogacy for pay, and in 2005 banned donor anonymity. Some U.S. states prohibit surrogacy for pay, and in recent years some have outlawed gay adoption.
"[In India, a] couple made payments as the pregnancy progressed, with the final amount due at birth. Of the $35,000, PlanetHospital keeps around $3,600. Another $5,000 goes to the egg donor, plus another $3,000 or so for travel expenses. The surrogate gets $8,000. The rest, around $15,000, is paid to the clinic.
"No country has become a greater magnet for the business than India, which made surrogacy legal in 2002. It has an ample supply of inexpensive surrogates and egg donors. There is little regulation beyond guidelines that set age limits for surrogates and prohibit a woman from acting as a surrogate more than three times.
"Surrogacy's complexity can give rise to extraordinarily difficult decisions, such as whether or not to abort. This can happen because clinics sometimes implant multiple embryos into multiple surrogates to improve the odds: If one miscarries, there are still viable pregnancies. However, if several implants successfully lead to pregnancy, clients face ending up with not just one or two children, but many."

And here is the PlanetHospital website--they are involved in all sorts of "medical tourism," not just reproductive services.

1 comment:

phil morris said...

We would like to inform you that Kiran Infertility Centre has decided to terminate its relationship with PlanetHospital. the reason for the same was because of all the irregularities and fraud and money laundering committed by Mr. Rudy Rupak Acharya during his time with PlanetHospital as CEO of PlanetHospital. He has committed acts to de-fame Kiran Infertility Centre by spreading wrong information, creating false web-sites and e-mail IDs of Kiran Infertility Centre and its associates and providing false information to clients.