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Surrogacy Blesses or Curses: “An Abbreviated Child” by Rita Garg

Dr.Pinki Arora
Assistant Professor
Central University of Harayana


Surrogacy is not a new term today. Even illiterates are aware of the benefits it provides. For some it’s a means of propagating their family lineage and for some a handsome means of employment. Humans have now started probing Nature for exploitation. Till now it were resources that man experimented but now human himself is a laboratory. Talking of surrogacy, Rita Garg has shown in her novel An Abbreviated Child the harmful effect of Surrogacy on society. As Marx acclaimed over exploitation and consumption has been catastrophic to humanity since generations. I have tried to explain the harmful effects of surrogacy in my paper.

Keywords: Surrogacy, consciousness, inevitable, exploitation, Nature, mother, dialectical materialism, superstructure, commercialization, rented womb, humanity, production

Becoming a mother and motherhood is a desirous blessing for every living creature. God blessed the female to carry this pain beautifully and joyfully. The word ‘MOTHER’ itself signifies generator of a new life, be that a human or non-human. Mother NATURE needs no description. The whole universe is a product of such rejuvenation and the process is incessant. Infertility in couples has been a social stigma compelling the male to remarry till he is capable of running his Vansh.

“Propagation is the ultimate purpose of any species, therefore, birth of an offspring is always dependent on the factors that lead to high chances of survival of the offspring. For example, birds migrate thousands of kilometers to find out suitable place where environment can support the high chances of survival of their offsprings.” (Sharma, web)

Natural born and nature born alike sublimate surroundings. Myth, literature, medicalscience and ages evince the unquestioned plethora of the above so far.William Wordsworth projects nature Mother; Hindu and Christian myth delineate nature born Shakuntala, Sita, Karna or Christ. They enact unprecedented worth worshipping roles.Till now their names enjoy overflowing respect, divinity and faith.Shakuntala, the nature born did what a natural born might not have achieved.Sita's purity and divinity are exemplary. Lord Christ gave up his life for the cause of mankind.He continued on the path full of thorns but fought.Mahabharata has hundred nature born brothers, Kauravas. Their role in the epic highlights the virtues by serving as a foil to vices.

Shakuntala has a fairy mother from heavens; Sita emerges out of mother earth; Karna is born of the sweat of the Sun and Virgin Mary too gives birth to Lord Christ only through the power of God.The spiritualistic deeds of these natural born bring salvation to mankind.Replete with the sagacity of purity, Nature Mother and the Nature born extend their role to that spacious surface which is not tethered, rather spreads goodness boundlessly.

Apparently, there are five categories of mothers. Above all, natural mother or mother; then the step mother; next comes  Panna Dhaya or the feeding nurse; besides there is the category of foster mother; and, last but not the least is the medically created surrogate mother.In An Abbreviated Child, the novelist projects the role of four categories of mother and motherhood.The question raised in the novel is about surrogacy.

Can we really categorize mothers? Mothers have been God incarnated since ancient times. History is full of such examples when adopted sons and daughters have been nurtured better than the real ones. A mother never demarcates, she is an embodiment of love and affection. May be Yashodra, Kunti, Devaki and many others who found themselves blessed with motherhood. Only rearing a child in the womb doesn’t complete motherhood, without nurturing motherhood stands meaningless. In that way a mother is a nursery where reproduction is practiced and as the sapling is ready her work is over. What about inculcating virtues and converting the offspring to a competent strong sturdy worthy creature.

Nowhere does the novelist show any inclination of the approval of this medical advancement.It is not at all discernible.The condemning of the surrogacy is made through comparison with an anecdote from Mahabharata, an epic.According to the mythological and religious belief, Subhadra, wife of Arjuna, is from a royal family.Add legend after belief. This legend relates to the time when Abhimanyu has to come to the world.This is a family of Kshtriyas who have martial art in Genes. One day, Subhadra was listening about the Chakravyuha.How a warrior enters it and after the destruction of enemy forces how carefully he returns alive fromChakravyuha.  As luck would have it, he missed the later part of the skill connected to the exit because she went to sleep.The novelist questions," is Abhimanyu's story a wasteful effort?

 The unborn baby is also nourished on the learning aspect. He picked the martial art in the womb of the royal mother."(Garg, 8)

The pertinence of the question above lies in the truth that the theory of genes is eternal and much of medical science is based on the same. Besides training, inculcation and environment, a lot depends on medical and biological inheritance; an object not to be gained in the situation of surrogacy. Not a royal or moneyed; educated and intelligent person would be a professional surrogate mother.This isa practice that boomerangs in India as overpopulation is already a murderous weapon. The novelist describes that orphan are littered at unwanted places.An ironical demerit of surrogacy is based on:
"A royal mother replaced by a poverty-stricken woman -- never fed enough -- never enjoyed riches of life ... ... the never never nest of the baby."

This metaphysical expression of "never never nest" for the womb of a surrogate mother implies the embryo inheriting "illiteracy, shrewdness, cunningness to develop an unscrupulous brain."The 'viability' (8) of a borrowed womb is a denial of much that is needful for the embryo and afterwards.
Mythically and on the basis of gene theory, surrogacy jeopardizes the abilities of a new born which persist the whole life.The novelist questions lack of knowledge, lack of innocence of a person belonging to poor surroundings. In the later part of the text, another hurdle found is that the medical problems of the child get heightened.As a result of surrogacy.Medical science, after arguments and researches has an established finding that genetic diseases are inculcated by an embryo. In a normal case, the baby would have the possibility of developing genetic problems of the two-- mother and father.In the situation of surrogacy, they run the risk of catching diseases running into the genes of the three - mother father and the surrogate professional woman.

Surrogacy was a medical technique developed basically for drought animals so as to produce new varieties of cattle and hooved animals. But humans are born to make benefits of Nature and employed this art to mankind without considering the dark side of it. Can’t we say Surrogacy denotes “RENTED WOMB”. Wombs are available in market as soil easily available to generate new species.
Surrogacy is largely on account of poverty. Its lucre that attracts a woman to offer her services as a surrogate worker. Surrogacy is not easy in itself. Rather the woman undergoes many medical challenges and her professional attitude is normal from that aspect.Fixed amount is paid but they demand in between also and get paid.The term used for this is "three dimensional phase of diseases."(7)

Another ironical aspect is that in many communities, horoscopes are matched at the time of marriage fixing. This is from the angle of better children in future. With surrogacy that is a misadventure,"But what will be the outcome of a borrowed and paid for womb."(8)

The justified argument about the racial betterment also crops up. Here the decision for child adoption is better as the world is overpopulated and most of the races are much incapacitated,"Better humans, well-nourished race and not an overburdened and under-fed race."(8)

Last arguments in this logical chain of ironical and dismal scenarios is that someone's child in some other person's womb shall be weakened on one more aspect. Real sisters and brothers share the joys and sorrows of each other all through their lives--if some bad luck does not hamper. This commonality of umbilical cord shall be missing in all kinship"(8) as surrogacy can't afford that bonding of one cord as would have been in case of a common mother's case.

The language used in the novel has precision. Much of thought provocation about one medical social aspect is limited to less than two small size papers. The entire novel in revised edition has less eighty pages but the issues raised are astounding. Thus the fear remains that the tight language used lets the ideas slip from the reader.The novel also has a comparative picture of the roles of mothers.There is, first of all, Panna Dhaya who is sincere to the core.To save the Prince of the State and the State, she sacrifices her son.Shakuntala, an exile, forced to live in Ashrama brings up her son as a brave boy and does not infuse negative ideas in his mind or of self. Her son, one day rules over Bharat.Similar is the fate of Sita  who brings up her twins in ashrama with competence and suitable training.Karna is as brave as anyone else. His foster parents are poor but with self training, he achieves the martial art skill Karna is able known for his sacrifices.Above all, Radha, the central figure, an orphan too, runs an orphanage.Since she herself faced miseries in life so her attitude to the young orphans has devotion and encouraging attitude.With all this, a crystal clear picture drawn of the current situation of the country forces to think of the undesirable human population increase.People associate child birth with various notions and out of that breed like mosquitoes where the hut is too small to maintain any sanctity.

Carrying the thread of Marxism that every base of the society creates its own superstructure. “The production of ideas, concepts and consciousness is first of all directly interwoven with the material intercourse of man, the language of real life. Conceiving, thinking, the spiritual intercourse of men appear here as the direct efflux of men’s material behavior… we do not proceed from what men say, imagine, conceive nor from men as described, thought of, imagined, conceived, in order to arrive at corporeal man; rather we proceed from the really active man…. Consciousness does not determine life; life determines consciousness”. (the German Ideology)

As the needs change, so does the course of life. Medical science was invented for the betterment of mankind. But humans could break it into a commercial art. We fin today many examples where unmarried parenting is seen. Rich exploit the poor. Without tying the nuptial knot surrogacy blesses them with children. Just a rented womb is in question and money is there to answer the need. When human consciousness has risen to generate their own children without taking the pains required for the process, exploitation of Nature is inevitable?

Can we predict that generations hence we shall rarely find natural mothers or shall only the poor carry natural children? Attributing to dialectical materialism, men are constantly under materialistic forces of production which in turn develop their social, economic and political relations. Commercialization of Natural process shall befall extreme calamities on mankind. Over exploitation of means of production will create havoc and the fall of living standards.

Thus the day is not far when humanity shall lose all its natural activities and creations. We will be living in an artificial world among artificial human beings behaving real.

Works Cited

Marx Karl, The German Ideology, New York, Prometheus Books, 1998, Print

Sharma. R. S, “Social, ethical, medical & legal aspects of surrogacy: an Indian scenario”,
Indian Journal of Medical Research. 2014 Nov; 140(Suppl) S13–S16.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4345743/