Julie Bindel, a strident opponent of surrogacy, travelled to India to find out more about a practice worth an estimated £690m a year on the subcontinen.
In Ahmedabad, Gujarat, my driver is looking for one of the city’s IVF clinics. We turn on to a busy main road and I spot a sign on a crumbling wall reading “test tube babies”.
I climb the filthy stairwell and enter a small, dark reception area. In the adjoining room I spot a hospital stretcher and shelves full of metal petri dishes, forceps and hypodermic needles. Dr Rana* leads me into a windowless office.
Before we even sit down, he is telling me about a change in India’s surrogacy policy. In October last year, the government told fertility clinics to stop all surrogate embryo transfers to foreigners.
The move follows a proposed change in the law that would limit surrogacy to Indian couples, or where at least one of the commissioning parents has an Indian passport and residency. Having established that neither I nor the woman posing as my husband’s sister own an Indian passport, Rana advises me to go to Thailand. It is selfish to have a surrogate baby Julie Bindel.
“It costs twice the price [that it does] here,” says Rana, “but they will even do sex selection, so many people will go from India.” Having heard many stories about how commonplace outsourcing pregnancy and reproduction is, I am in India to investigate the country’s “rent-a-womb” industry.