Made in India re-aired Tuesday, May 5, 2015.
About the Program
Made in India is a film about the human experiences behind the phenomenon of "outsourcing" surrogacy to India. It follows the journey of an infertile American couple, an Indian surrogate and the business of reproductive tourism that brings them together. Weaving together these personal stories within the context of a growing international industry, the film explores a complicated clash of families in crisis, assisted reproductive technologies and personal choice from a global perspective.
In San Antonio, Texas, Lisa and Brian Switzer sell their house and risk their savings on a medical tourism company that has promised them an affordable solution to their seven-year struggle with infertility. Across the world in Mumbai, India, Aasia Khan puts on a burka, but not for religious reasons; she wants to hide her identity from neighbors as she enters a fertility clinic to be implanted with this American couple's embryos. These are the scenes that unfold as East meets West in suburbs and shantytowns, in test tubes and Petri dishes and in surrogates and infertile couples.
Reproductive tourism has become a booming trade, valued at more than $450 million in India, and it's growing rapidly. Infertile couples in the U.S. pay up to $100,000 for a domestic surrogacy, but in India, the process can cost a quarter of that, roughly $25,000 (this includes clinic charges, lawyer's bills, travel and lodging and the surrogate's fee). But surrogacy's growth in India is occurring in a complete legal vacuum; currently, there are no actual laws governing it, only suggested guidelines. And yet, the practice continues to expand without regulation or protection.
Made in India is the first feature documentary to show the personal stories of the real people involved. Aasia is a 27-year-old mother of three who lives in a one-room house in a slum in Mumbai. She laughs with disbelief when she first heard of surrogacy: "A child without a man?! How can that be? There has to be some kind of a ... 'relationship,' right?!" Aasia's decision to become a surrogate — and to do so without her husband's consent even — debunks any simplistic characterization of her as an exploited victim.
Lisa and Brian see themselves as fighters: "In the U.S., if you're struggling to have a child, you have to be a lawyer or a doctor to afford this. It's not fair." They believe hiring an Indian surrogate is their only chance to have a child of their own, and they are sure that they will help Aasia just as she helps them. But when facing accusations of exploitation, Lisa and Brian must defend their choices. "Walk a mile in my shoes before you judge me," Lisa commands.
As Aasia and the Switzers' stories evolve, the bigger picture behind the globalization of the reproductive industry begins to unfold, revealing a complicated set of issues around citizenship, human rights, global corporate practices, choice, reproductive rights, commodification of the body, legal accountability and notions of motherhood.
Made in India explores the impact of the decisions of one person over another. It reveals the legal and ethical implications behind their choices and presents the conflict between the personal and the political dilemmas of international surrogacy.
Made in India was produced and directed by Rebecca Haimowitz and Vaishali Sinha.
Made in India, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Text and photos courtesy of Made in India.