In a recent study, India has a dubious presence of being the country with most modern-day slaves in the world – an estimated about 14 million people. Slavery in any form is bad. January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Month. As an evolving human society, we have learnt our lessons but have we? While most people are not affected by infertility or dysfertility and therefore are unaware about the underbelly of dealing with being childless. The “popular mantra” is providing a child to the infertile adult while ignoring the needs of the innocent, voiceless child. Most cases are normal but what happens when IVF children are victims and due to lack of laws have no legal recourse? Should we be allowing criminals to take children away from their biological families simply because they are affluent and infertile? Or does the CHILD have EQUAL rights? What we need is freedom from the slavery of secrecy, lies and fraud and have an opportunity to live freely with a valid legal identity. Recently, India has also become a global hub in international IVF/surrogacy. The international IVF industry is flourishing without any laws. Is this vacuum of lack of laws while churning out innocent IVF babies with compassionate surrogates creating modern day slaves in some cases? If so, where is the relief for victims and where is the justice? The spirit of the article is to bring change with stating facts and truth. Let us analyze the modern day slavery report and a case of an immigrant, IVF, intersex family in 2000s married in India and had IVF children in India and are split across two continents in the US and India and are denied to meet. “The study could help governments assess and eradicate slavery, which is a ‘hidden and diverse’ crime”, Walk Free said. We hope that the governments assess and eradicate the modern day vacuum in international IVF/surrogacy which is a “hidden and diverse” crime. The fact that innocent, voiceless IVF siblings have been heinously split is what prompts the discussion. The definition and parameters used in the Global Slavery Index by the Walk Free Foundation to define modern day slavery include:
1) Practices such as debt bondage – If two adults agree to have an IVF child together and one commissioning parent abandons an IVF pregnancy mid-way, should there be any responsibility and accountability placed on that parent for the welfare of the IVF child? In a commercial surrogacy situation, since the commissioning parent has abandoned, who will pay the surrogate for the IVF child and what are the rights of the surrogate? Because of the abandonment, the IVF child may become stateless without a “legal identity”, what are the rights of the IVF child? Do they deserve basic human respect and dignity? If one of the commissioning parents – the biological parent is forced to either also abandon his IVF child due to lack of laws or give up his career, life, and family and move to India to raise the abandoned IVF daughter and thus placing an extreme financial burden on him and the IVF child. Fighting for rights is very expensive and requires financial resources. If a natural born child is abandoned, legally there is a recourse to get child support for welfare of the child. But discriminating against an IVF child is OK? Are the needs of an IVF child any less than any other child? EQUAL is all we ask.
2) Forced marriage – Being intersex is very traumatic and is what we are told especially to people who have little to no awareness on the subject. Legally, intersex people cannot marry. What is the greater good – demand for equal marriage rights or lie and force unsuspecting victims into intersex marriage? Socially whatever we may think, legally being in an intersex marriage, both spouses have to deal with the lack of laws issues because an intersex marriage is illegal. Recently, Edie Windsor in the US in its defeat of DOMA demonstrated that the right answer is to change the laws, not break the laws. Along with her, several others benefited including immigration for same-sex spouses. Some spouses have waited over 40 years to legally marry but not break the law – their love did not decrease. Some spouses have waited several years to sponsor their spouse for US Immigration based on marriage unlike frauding the US Immigration for personal benefit. Forcing any unsuspecting spouse into a marriage under threats and silence is abuse. There are also intersex people who are honest which is a good example to follow than to lie, fraud, abuse and exploit others including innocent children. If an intersex person can demand for equal intersex rights and equal reproductive rights due to infertility, can they also give equal rights to IVF children and families and spouse caregiver of intersex? Being a victim of gender role stereotyping is one thing but to victimize a child like that is another. A spouse caregiver of intersex and an IVF father was the primary care provider for his IVF child when born because the intersex spouse was under medical treatment and was under severe trauma to care for an infant. That’s a fact creating a deep bond between the innocent child and the “father/mother/primary care provider” – why rob him of that just because it does not “fit the gender role stereotype”? He was both a mother and father under the most grievous of circumstances. Neither the compassionate egg donor or the surrogate who gave birth were around, we lied. And if the “mother” is the person who spends the most time and bonds with the child in the initial months, then that would be the IVF father because of the unique circumstances. To deny the truth would be to also deny the facts of abuse and violence perpetrated while undergoing medical treatment with severe trauma and depression. It is sad and compassion worthy but it is not worthy of denial and lying. If a child is raised by a gay couple, who is the “mother”? Should we start teaching our children to say “primary care provider” instead of “mother” and “father” to get the point across?
3) Sale or exploitation of children – There are no specific laws for IVF children. There are 8 different ways in how parentage can be assigned in an IVF child while there is only one way for a natural born child. Socially whatever we may believe that it is the love for the child and not the biology or gender of the parent, the laws are strictly based on biology and gender of a parent. This gap creates situations sometimes where innocent IVF children are rendered stateless and/or are exploited. What is their fault? Is having a legal identity the right of an individual? Is having valid birth documents the property of an individual – something they will need from birth to even age 60 or 70? Why should an innocent, voiceless IVF child be punished for crimes they did not commit?
4) Human trafficking – As stated earlier, the laws are based on biology and gender. If you do not like the laws, change the laws but do not break them especially which hurts innocent children. Legally, an intersex person cannot marry, nor can they have a biological child, neither have the adopted a child legally, then how can they have “legal custody” of an IVF child? Was there any suppression of facts? Were any laws broken or violated? Is this a sophisticated white collar crime in human trafficking? Is denying the IVF child the truth and access to his biological family and siblings a violation of his human rights? Is denying a valid legal identity to a child a violation of laws? A US grandmother was arrested and charged for abducting a child uncovered on presenting false birth documents.
5) Forced labor – Using an anonymous egg donor and surrogate for their compassion to have an IVF child is one thing, to lie and claim as your own and denying them the gratitude and facts is ____? Claiming to love an IVF child while abandoning another IVF child – their sibling is defined as love for the child in which world? Had the conspiracy to split the IVF siblings and suppressing the facts from court while creating a unique circumstance using anti-IVF laws, anti-gay laws, anti-LGBTI laws, could a person have got “legal custody” of an IVF child? Was the innocent IVF child used as “property” to be discarded with no consequences or is the IVF child a human being with protection of basic human rights and dignity?
6) Others are tricked and lured into situations they cannot escape – An unsuspecting male was tricked into a marriage only to be later revealed it is both marriage fraud and in fact is illegal because its an intersex marriage. Next came the intersex surgery during marriage which is even rarer and the resulting abuse, violence and caregiving of a person who is changing in every way possible. They say a spouse changes after marriage, this takes it to whole another level – physically, physiologically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically. Next came the infertility and the resulting international IVF and its lack of laws and immigration issues. The trickery, secrecy, lies, fraud were so ingrained and brainwashed that one can simply not escape. That does not mean it did not occur. If the mistake is the crimes were not reported but that does not mean the crimes did not occur. We had become slaves to the secrecy, lies and fraud of living as intersex, immigrant and IVF in 2000s. The effects of this slavery is still continuing because innocent IVF brother and sister are divided and are stateless in legal limbo. The bigger questions to ask are :
- How do we solve the issues of intersex? Is it by secrecy, lies and victimizing innocent, unsuspecting spouses – also humans OR by passing equal laws for which facts and truth is necessary?
- How do we solve the issue of IVF/infertility? Medically, IVF helps infertile or dysfertile humans, have the laws caught up with technology to address the issue in “entirety”?
- How do we solve the issue of IVF children rights? Is it enough to say that great we have delivered a child to an infertile or dysfertile human or do we also need to equally protect the IVF children and donors and surrogates and families and the “entire ” IVF ecosystem?
If it were 1800, to suggest to a person that if they don’t want to be a slave, they should change their skin color may have been appropriate for the time. But its 2000s and times have changed somewhat. If I were that person, I would keep my skin color the way it is and rather stand on the right side of history and fight for equal rights for me and everyone like me. A story of an immigrant, IVF father in 2014 is similar, rather than “accomodating” to the discriminatory laws of today, would rather stand on the right side of history and fight for equal rights of IVF children and families.