A Womb Can Be Rented For $3,000

Sharq, Daily Newspaper
Vol. 1, No. 129, Jan. 31st, 2004, Page 16
By : Paksima Mojavvezi

45-year-old mother and 50-year-old father are given a chance to have a child. In addition to other fertility methods, rented wombs in Iran provide the chance to have a child at higher age in infertility treatment clinics, such as Rouyan. Nevertheless, the method is still faced with legal drawbacks. Due to this very same non-transparency of details from legal point of view, reluctance to deliver the born baby by the rented mother or any other problems are likely to be faced. The woman giving in to become a rented mother usually asks for costly rentals ranging between 20-25 million rials (3,000 dollars).

Just as the baby is about to be born, its parents are overexcited. They have already picked up a name for the baby and have prepared a room for the expected newcomer. They are to feel the sweet taste of becoming parents after 25 years of married life. They are the parents of the baby who has been away from them for nine months. They could just follow up the growing process of their baby through photos produced through sonography and the very same chance of observing the black-and-white images of their baby made their life colorful.

The mother is 45 years old and the father is 50 of age. Nonetheless, their excitement is equal to that of young couples who are experiencing a new life. The cheerful mother, who is waiting day by day for the birth of her baby, said, "We were short of nothing in our lives, except the absence of a baby." We owe our great delight for life to "Setareh" (Star). That's why if our baby turns out to be a girl, we are going to call her "Sepehr" (Sky) so that Setareh would be contained in it. Setareh, the father's niece, is 25 years old. Being aware of the infertility of her uncle and his wife, Setareh decided to nurture their baby in her womb. That's why she is in some way to become a 2nd mother to the baby.

As the head of board of directors of Iran's Fertility Association, Dr. Naser Mojarradi announced to reporters that 85-90 percent of infertile patients can be treated at the infertility treatment centers; he actually conveyed a promising message; given that infertility would be a dilemma and headache to every couple.

Rented womb or mother is one of the positive ways being practiced at some infertility treatment centers for the past two years. The method provides the women having difficulty to hold the fetus in their wombs with the alternative to have it nurtured in that of another woman as a more suitable environment. One of the officials of the Rouyan Fertility Clinic said, "Once one of the couples faces a problem, first the one who is mainly disabled undergoes treatment. Then three days past artificial fertilization in the laboratory, namely just as the fetus consists of 6-8 cells, it is placed in the womb of the rented mother." The woman accepting to raise the fetus in her womb is called a "Rented Mother" or "Meddling Mother". She is the one who holds the baby, who is not hers, inside herself for nine months. Upon entry into Rouyan Fertility Clinic, photos of babies are seen hanging on the walls of the corridor. Though the issue of rented mother in Iran is facing legal obstacles, it is one way that could make a family prosperous.

Infertility experts believe that since the baby is separated from the real mother and placed in the womb of the rented mother in three days, the process will cause no complications with respect to inheritance. Since the original mother has failed to nourish the fetus by herself, she would need the assistance of another woman. A number of families and even the Iranian community have not yet managed to understand the method as they should have. According to Dr. Mojarradi, a great number of couples welcomed the scheme and were prepared to pay for renting a mother. However, the problem is that very few women would volunteer to become a substitute to the original mother to raise the fetus. He noted that its being in conflict with cultural principles mainly accounts for such a reluctance. A woman 37-year-old woman, who lost her husband six years ago, appeared at the clinic. After the demise of her spouse, she had to bear the burden of life alone. She said, "I have heard something about the method, but have hardly ever believed it. Now that I am here to see that it is true, I am really glad. In fact, I am willing to do it, but I am afraid of the people's approach and their inquisitive looks. Would anyone believe me if I tell them that I am a rented mother?! Because of this same attitude, rented mothers are mostly relatives or acquaintances; given that it would much easier to convince others as a first step."

She looked happy and was laughing. The she added, "Last year, I volunteered as a rented mother and gave birth to a cute pair of twins. At times, I visit the family and the children, given that after all I am a mother and have born them inside my own being for nine month. This time I have come for the sake of my husband's aunt, who is infertile. Once she found out that the babies I delivered are safe and sound, she asked me to do it for her as well and I accepted."

Specialists believe that the age of the rented mother is not important, as the baby just needs a proper environment to grow up. But women of high or low age can hardly bear to hold a fetus in their womb because of their weak physical condition. Though the officials in charge of this ward say that the baby's family, namely the mother and father, are constantly taking care of the rented mother, she would also need proper psychological and environmental conditions.

The 32-year-old women expecting to deliver her child said, "The rented mother of my baby is living in a city too far away from here. But we visit her every other week, given that she is, after all, a 2nd mother to our baby." While there is no ban on bearing a fetus by a rented mother in her womb, shortage of proper laws on the issue make the infertile couples to have no confidence in having a child through this method. Possibly for this same non-transparency of details of the womb-renting, which have not been legally recorded, rented mothers may avoid to deliver the baby upon birth or other difficulties could occur. Because of such risks, most families prefer to look for rented mothers among their reliable relatives.

On the other hand, the woman accepting to become a rented mother normally would ask rents ranging between 20-25 million rials. Nevertheless, another problem is the need to change the appearance of the rented mother. A official in charge of the clinic said, "Married women face no specific problem in renting their womb, but when single women intend to do it, they should be prepared to respond to a lot of questions occurring to the people's mind. This is mainly due to the fact that the method is so unprecedented and new in Iran that no one is even aware of it, thus only 2-3 cases of womb-renting has taken place which have mainly been selected among relatives.

The entire issue would lose its significance to some extent once taken from legal point of view and would go so far as forcing deputy head of the Familial Judiciary Complex, Zeinab Ranjbar to say, "Though the method can make many families feel prosperous and solve their problem of having no child, but the conflict on the legal and religious aspects of the issue is still going on. This may be because this is a new move and no precise information is still available about it. However, it should be noticed that whenever the need for it arises, it should be taken as a solution." Therefore, given the comments of lawyers, the absence of proper cultural and legal regulations and the possible associated difficulties, a lot of such obstacles could be tackled by reducing legal flaws and proper cultural training on the issue. Then the infertile couples would be able to use the benefits of this treatment method with more confidence."

She added, "My child was the first one born through a rented mother. My daughter is now two years old and I intend to tell her how she was born when she is old enough to understand it. Setareh is now old enough to manage to call us mom and dad."

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