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At its best, surrogacy can allow low-skilled Indian women a life-changing amount of income; at its worst, it can be exploitative and physically dangerous. Either way, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is looking to shut down the industry almost entirely.   © Illustration by Parvati Pillai
The Big Story

'Wombs for hire' mothers become pawns in Modi's culture war

A looming ban on surrogacy threatens to close a route out of poverty

KIRAN SHARMA, Nikkei staff writer | India

ANAND, India -- This is the second time in three years that Meena has rented out her womb. The 35-year-old from India's western state of Gujarat left school at 12 and worked in menial jobs, most recently at a limestone products factory where she says she earned 50 to 60 rupees -- less than a dollar -- per day.

Her husband left her to raise two teenage sons alone. In 2017, she signed up as a surrogate at the Akanksha Hospital & Research Institute, a fertility clinic in Anand, a small town around two hours outside the state capital of Gandhinagar.

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