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The ‘Public’ Selection of Selective Discourse

Transnational Surrogacy

The manner in which assisted reproductive technologies are deliberately enmeshed with human subjects in public discourse complicates its regulation. The public debate surrounding the ART Draft Bill's provisions to regulate transnational commercial surrogacy is an example of how issues relating to this burgeoning billion dollar industry are represented in the public and administrative spheres.

The Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) Regulation of Assisted Reproductive Technologies Draft Bill (henceforth the bill) has been a work-in-progress since 2005.1 Its appearance in two subsequent drafts – 2008 and 2010 (there is also a 2012 version) – has not led to any significant change in its primary perspective through these “reworkings” (ICMR 2010). The essential nature of the bill over its many drafts begins to confirm feminist critiques of the document as incomplete and lacking in many respects. In this article I look at the discourse surrounding its emergence and reworking as charted in the national media. This discourse is selective in the way it positions assisted reproductive technologies within public understanding in a partial and exclusionary debate.

Of importance is the way in which assisted reproductive technologies come to be represented in public and administrative mindscapes. This is seen in the debate surrounding the bill regarding its position vis-à-vis the practice of transnational commercial gestational surrogacy (henceforth TCGS) – a burgeoning billion dollar industry that combines technological expertise and the cheap, easy availability of Indian women as surrogates. It is interesting therefore to find that “regulation” has a completely different meaning in this context from the way it is configured. Thus, the technology comes to be deliberately enmeshed with its human subjects in a way that complicates its regulation, as well as identification.

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