Sunday, July 22, 2012

Open letter to The Hindu (newspaper)

Thanks to Douglas over at Just One Out of Seven Billion for bringing an article by The Hindu, to my attention.  Below is an open letter to the editor based on a similarly emailed letter.


Regarding your article here:, I am surprised and saddened to see such a bias-based article written by The Hindu. There are several misrepresentations that I will list for your consideration.

1.) Thanks to the emergence of surrogate motherhood as a multimillion-dollar industry in the country, the clinic is doing a roaring business. What is the success formula? An unending supply of poor and illiterate women and the absence of laws have made the trade the fastest way to make money.

No source referenced here (a mainstay of good journalism) on how the author came to the conclusion that this specific clinic's success is based on [the uteri] of poor/illiterate women. No mention on how the clinic in question has put a lot into the community to educate the surrogates and their children. No mention of the trust fund set up to assist current and previous surrogates to further themselves and their family. A simple query into the community will show you that Dr. Patel is highly revered for all she has done to help the women in her care. Simple research into print editions of The Times of India (Ahmedabad edition) or Hindustan Times would have shown this as well. Had the author inquired into proof of how the surrogates have had their lives changed by this clinic, then Dr. Patel would have been able to provide this.

2.) Another inmate had four foetuses in her womb, two of which were aborted as the couple did not want so many children. There is no clarity on whether two foetuses were aborted for medical reasons. 

Using the emotional term "inmate" aside,  a woman carrying 4 foetuses to full term is in extreme danger, as are the foestuses. A rudimentary check with a few respectible obstetricians would have enlightened this fact. A woman's survival rate and the babies survival rate is seriously compromised and often considered not worth the risk. A doctor that WOULD allow this should draw much more concern as in cases where it is allowed, it would appear that the woman's health is not the priority.

3.) A commissioning couple can get a surrogate for half the price in India compared to the cost in the U.S. or the U.K., where surrogacy is not allowed or permitted only in special cases. European countries do not allow surrogacy at all. 

While I could lament on the economic differences between these countries and how comaparing them is extremely misleading, I will simply point out the cost of the average 1000 sqft flat in Vastrapura (located in the state of the clinic mentioned in this article) to allude my point: the [current] equivelent of 12-16K US dollars. To find the same home in the US at 3x the price would not only be almost impossible, but would most definitly require additional large funds to be habitated. That aside, this statement by the journalist, Aarti Dhar, is also false: surrogacy is most certainly allowed throughout the US. A few states may have particular laws disallowing it, but all one has to do is find a surrogate in a different state if there is any concern.

The statement on Europe is equally false as there is more than one European country that allows surrogacy, though like India, some do not have specific regulations in place. Even for the majority that do disallow it, the US has long been a place (much longer than India) for Europeans interested in surrogacy. Legal problems that were encountered in the US initially, such as the 1986 Baby M case, have been resolved by using gestational surrogacy only versus the traditional surrogacy.

The core principles of journalism dictate truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability. Since this article is not listed under the Opinion section and instead falls under the National section, it fails on all accounts. We can not address how women are being exploited in these circumstances, and I believe there is a high liklihood that they are in many places, if our newspapers do not give the information accurately and without bias. More importantly, we can not attempt to fix it. Very disappointing that The Hindu, with such a illustrious history and excellent reputation, failed on such a basic level.


  1. Hey, Adrien! I've got a few days left before heading back to school/work. I'm totally going a little stir crazy and was thinking about a mini-adventure. If I popped down to ATL for a quick trip, would you be in town? Maybe the end of this week or one day this weekend? Email me and we'll coordinate. (pcosnme at gmail dot com)


I LOVE comments - feel free to join in!
Unless you are a spammer and hawking your wares. Then you will be booted immediately.