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Women’s Control Over Decision to Participate in Surrogacy

Experiences of Surrogate Mothers in Gujarat


The rise of surrogacy in India over the last decade has helped individuals across the world to realize their parenting aspirations. In the macro-context of poverty in India and the hierarchical and patriarchal family set-up, concerns are expressed about coercion of women to participate in surrogacy. While the ethical issues engulfing surrogacy are widely discussed, not much is known about the role women play in the decision-making to participate in surrogacy. The paper aims to addresses this gap and is based on a part of a larger ethnographic study conducted at a surrogacy clinic in Anand, Gujarat, India. We explored experiences of forty-one surrogate mothers using in-depth interviews and analysed the narratives to identify women’s own perceived role in the decision-making to participate in surrogacy. Narratives describing the decision-making process were identified and treated as a preliminary unit of analysis. We examined the use of singular and plural pronouns like “I,” “me,” and “mine” versus “we,” “us,” and “our,” along with the use of active and passive voice to determine whether women assumed responsibility for the decision to participate in surrogacy or they attributed the decision to others. Findings unravelled the complexities of the decision-making process and indicated that eighty-five percent of the women played an active role in the decision-making to participate in surrogacy, albeit with new avenues of exploitation in the commercial market space and raised serious bioethical concerns.

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This research was supported by The Research Fellowship in Sciences for Meritorious Students, Basic Scientific Research scheme of the University Grants Commission, India.

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Correspondence to Asmita Naik Africawala.

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Naik Africawala, A., Kapadia, S. Women’s Control Over Decision to Participate in Surrogacy. Bioethical Inquiry 16, 501–514 (2019).

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  • ART
  • Surrogacy
  • Agency
  • Decision-making
  • Control