Friday, October 9, 2009

OMG, where has "outsourcing" gone ?

Outsourcing is a big and growing industry, in which India, and now China have major stakes. What started off as IT outsourcing quickly spread to a number of traditional areas – call centres, finance, HR, etc and then to exotic areas – children’s homework, tutions and the like.

I have a passing acquaintance with this industry but I had not even dreamt of the possibility of surrogate child bearing as an industry. I read this report completely gob smacked with a mouth wide open.

It’s a longish report, but for those not intending to read the whole article, the “industry” goes like this – if a couple cannot have a child because the lady is unable to conceive for whatever reason , there are a number of options open to them. They can get a donor egg or use the lady’s own egg, The sperm can be from a donor or from the husband. A surrogate is hired and the in vitro fertilized egg is implanted in the womb of the surrogate who bears the child. There is, obviously, a cash consideration for the surrogate. Apparently this “industry” is now moving offshore. And no prizes for guessing which is the leading offshore destination, by far. India. Ok its still very tiny, but it has started.

I am in a whirl. This is one of those devilishly difficult issues. Who is to say what is right or wrong ? There are all sorts of ethical and moral dimensions to this. Complicated by the fact that this will be seen very differently in different cultures. And if you put off shoring into this, with its big religious and cultural differences, it becomes mind bogglingly complicated. And then you add the possibility of exploitation of an economically poor Indian woman, it just becomes impossible to take any stand at all.

Is it right to allow individual freedom of choice in this ? Or is it right for society to draw a line on what is OK and what is not OK ?

I understand the topic of surrogates is also live amongst serials on Indian TV. I am told Jogula in Kannada and Arasi in Tamil, have this as a theme. Of course, I have no access to any of them, as I am required by the laws of the country I live in to only watch the Chinese premier being received by the North Korean president.

For what it is worth, I will state my point of view. I believe using a surrogate is morally wrong. And off shoring of surrogates is doubly wrong. This should not become an outsourcing business.