The Case of Baby Manji
Author: Points, Kari
Source: Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University
Number of pages: 12, 6
Japanese couple Ikufumi and Yuki Yamada traveled to India in late 2007 to discuss with fertility specialist Dr. Nayna Patel their desire to hire a surrogate mother to bear a child for them. The doctor arranged a surrogacy contract with Pritiben Mehta, a married Indian woman with children. Dr. Patel supervised the creation of an embryo from Ikufumi Yamada’s sperm and an egg harvested from an anonymous Indian woman. The embryo was then implanted into Mehta’s womb. In June 2008, the Yamadas divorced, and a month later Baby Manji was born to the surrogate mother. Although Ikufami wanted to raise the child, his ex-wife did not. Suddenly, Baby Manji had three mothers—the intended mother who had contracted for the surrogacy, the egg donor, and the gestational surrogate—yet legally she had none.
The surrogacy contract did not cover a situation such as this. Nor did any existing laws help to clarify the matter. Both the parentage and the nationality of Baby Manji were impossible to determine under existing definitions of family and citizenship under Indian and Japanese law. The situation soon grew into a legal and diplomatic crisis. The case of Baby Manji illustrates the complexity and challenges faced by institutions in the face of emerging technologies.
An overview of the Kenan Institute for Ethics’s Institutions in Crisis framework, in which this case was created to illustrate, accompanies this case study.
Commercial Surrogacy and Fertility Tourism in India (131k)
A teaching note for this case is also available for download
Commercial Surrogacy and Fertility Tourism in India Teaching Note (47k)