Complications of Surrogacy: The Case of Baby Manji

Posted by Marcy Darnovsky on September 18th, 2009

Last summer, a baby girl named Manji was born to an Indian surrogate. These days, there's nothing too unusual about that: According to The Economist, the Indian surrogacy market is now worth about half a billion dollars. Surrogates are typically poor uneducated women from rural villages. Fertility clinics pay them between $4,500 and $5,000 for carrying a pregnancy, and charge their clients - many of whom come from outside the country - about twice that.

In this case, the arrangement got sticky not because the surrogate wanted to keep the baby (a common concern for those hiring a surrogate) but because the Japanese couple who were the "intended parents" had divorced. The husband still wanted to raise Manji, but his ex-wife did not.

The father found himself in a catch-22. India requires that a child be legally adopted before leaving the country, but bars single men from adopting. Manji's father was denied travel documents for the baby. The situation was widely covered in Indian and global media, and grew into a legal and diplomatic crisis.

Manji was eventually permitted to leave for Japan, but the debate within India about surrogacy has continued. Women's rights groups and other NGOs are calling for regulation and oversight, and raising questions about whether commercial surrogacy is a good idea at all.

A newly published paper by Duke University policy analyst Kari Points, Commercial Surrogacy and Fertility Tourism in India: The Case of Baby Manji, recounts Manji's story and addresses these topics. Points writes that the case has raised numerous questions:

What is a mother? What is a father? What does it mean to be a human? A citizen? How do we recognize and validate the identities of people and families formed through emerging technologies? And if, in doing so, we change our core definitions of family, have we made progress?

Previously on Biopolitical Times:

Posted in Assisted Reproduction, Marcy Darnovsky's Blog Posts, Other Countries, Reproductive Justice, Health & Rights, Surrogacy


Add a Comment
  1. Comment by otoriou, Nov 28th, 2016 11:15pm

    There, not a single risk or side effect is mentioned, though the known short-term risks are significant (and include, rarely, death) and the lack of data about long-term risks is notorious.

  2. Comment by mack, Mar 10th, 2016 4:11am

    thanks for share information

  3. Comment by Surrogacy Nepal , Jan 2nd, 2015 1:59am

    A Family starts with a baby. Surrogacy Nepal helps to start your own family with our guaranteed surrogacy program. The complete package helps you to get baby.

  4. Comment by Chambre d'hôte Epernay, Nov 18th, 2013 12:49pm

    We should have a universality of human rights in children

  5. Comment by Annonces gratuites, Oct 27th, 2013 11:39am

    The Indian market surrogacy is booming. It is difficult to fight. Annonces gratuites

  6. Comment by Beatrice, Feb 3rd, 2010 12:55am

    Criticising surrogacy is denying a family to a certain percentage of couples on the one hand; it is, I believe, not to know what it is not to have a family, the chock that it creates and this for the rest of the couple's life on the other hand. Surrogates are everywhere where there is technology.

    India has become a choice for many infertile couples worlwide for many reasons, namely:
    1. There is technology and competent medical personnel
    2. Treatment is very less expensive compared to US or Europ
    3. Traveling to India is easy - getting visa is easy.
    It is not like US or europ visas where visa section personnel consider that everybody would LOVE to live in US or in Europ. When you are from a developing country and look for a visa to US or to Europ, it is like you are a begger.

    So, not only surrogate mothers are less expensive but also technology and medical products are at less cost.
    Should people then say Americans et al are exploiting India Clinics' personnel?



home | overview | blog | publications | about us | donate | newsletter | press room | privacy policy

CGS • 1120 University Ave, Suite 100, Berkeley, CA 94702 USA • • (p) 1.510.625.0819 • (F) 1.510.665.8760