Another Scandal at a Prominent Surrogacy Agency

Posted by Marcy Darnovsky May 29, 2014
Biopolitical Times
Rudy Rupak, CEO and founder of Planet Hospital, in the “Happy Room” at Cancun Fertility Centre, one of the company’s Mexican partner clinics

Another high-profile surrogacy agency, Los Angeles-based medical tourism company Planet Hospital, stands accused of deceiving its clients and stealing their money. According to a report earlier this month by Al Jazeera America, one of these clients has compiled information from 40 couples who say they were victimized by Planet Hospital founder Rudy Rupak Acharya, and turned it over to the FBI’s Consumer Fraud division in San Diego.

A March news story in the Bay Area Reporter about complaints against Planet Hospital by LGBT clients says that three are seeking refunds through a bankruptcy court.

Both news stories report that Planet Hospital has removed surrogacy from the list of medical tourism procedures it offers.

Planet Hospital founder Rudy Rupak Acharya comes in for a whopping dose of criticism, which by all accounts is well deserved. Former CGS staffer Doug Pet encountered Rupak when he wrote about the company’s so-called "India bundle," an arrangement meant to “streamline” the arrival of a baby by implanting clients’ embryos in two surrogates at the same time. Initially, Planet Hospital advertised that commissioning parents could order an abortion if both surrogates became pregnant.

Detailed accounts by clients who say they were swindled can be found online (for example, here, here and here), but Al Jazeera and Bay Area Reporter have so far offered the only media coverage.

Perhaps this is because surrogacy industry scandals have become a bit like old news. In 2011, two prominent attorneys pled guilty and were sent to prison on criminal charges connected with an elaborate international surrogacy fraud. The same FBI office that has been contacted by Planet Hospital’s former client investigated that case; its press release bore the pull-no-punches title “Baby-Selling Ring Busted.”

Al Jazeera’s investigative report is part of a series that includes “a guide to some of the international surrogacy hotspots” and an article about wealthy Chinese couples who come to the US for surrogacy. Both its coverage and the lengthy article about Planet Hospital in the Bay Area Reporter focus entirely on the financial and emotional damages done to those who commissioned pregnancies. Neither outlet asks whether any surrogates may have been left mid-pregnancy with no prospect of getting paid, which has occurred in previous surrogacy scandals. And neither mentions the many reports from India of disturbing practices that harm women who work as surrogates there.

Previously on Biopolitical Times: