A 32-year-old woman, Nagalakshmi, from Visakhapatnam has accused a hospital of artificially inseminating her instead of fertilising her eggs outside the womb. The woman had earlier agreed to be a surrogate mother in exchange for a monetary compensation. However, after the operation was performed, her health condition deteriorated. The woman and her husband met with another doctor, only to realise that her condition was serious. The family has demanded the pregnancy to be reversed.
The woman was approached by a surrogacy mediator, K Usha, who convinced her to be a part of the program. The woman, who is a mother of 3 and lives separately from her husband, agreed due to her financial needs.
According to Nagalaksmi, Usha had promised her Rs.20,000 in exchange for donating her eggs. She was also asked to stay in the hospital for 30 days.
Dr Sudha Padmasri of Padmasri Hospital told the TOI, “I have obtained all necessary permissions from local authorities. I have not done anything illegal. The woman signed a legal document for surrogacy. The agreement was between the donor and the infertile woman. I am only a doctor.”
In the complaint, Nagalakshmi said that Usha had taken her to Padmasri hospital and signed herself as Nagalakshmi’s caretaker. “They gave me so many medicines before I was taken into the operation theatre after 15 days. I was told they were taking eggs from my womb. They took my signature on several papers,” Nagalakshmi alleged, as reported by TOI.
Nagalakshmi was later informed by the doctor about the artificial insemination. She was offered 3 lakhs as well. A devastated Nagalakshmi complained to Usha about the cheating that took place against her.
As Nagalakshmi was becoming physically weak, she decided to meet her husband and discuss the issue. They both went to another hospital for consultation. Since then, they started demanding the pregnancy to be reversed. According to TOI, Progressive Organisation of Women (POW) state secretary P Lakshmi also alleged that the woman was cheated by the hospital management.
Surrogacy Laws in India
In India, commercial surrogacy was legalised in 2002. It has led to a booming surrogate industry with more than 3000 fertility clinics across the country. However, sex-selective surrogacy is strictly prohibited. In recent years, it has been recognised that surrogate mothers are highly exploited by this commercial practice. A Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Lok Sabha in November to completely abolish commercial surrogacy. The bill is yet to be passed.