Commercial surrogacy in India had become widespread and India has become a preferred destination for many foreign nationals and many couples in India for various reasons. The government saw the booming industry and felt there was an urgent need to regulate surrogacy in India and to safe guard the health and interests for surrogate mothers, so that no one is exploited.
The Union cabinet recently cleared the draft surrogacy regulation bill, let us look at some of the important aspects of the bill:
1. Who can and who can’t avail surrogacy according to the new bill?
The conditions to avail surrogacy has been narrowed down to only infertile couples if the couples show a proven condition of infertility and have been married for 5 years. As per the Bill, only legally—wedded Indian couples can have children through surrogacy, provided at least one of them have been proven to have fertility-related issues adding to this foreigners and even Overseas Indians, are barred from commissioning surrogacy. This is in addition to couples in live-in and homosexual relationships who will be banned from commercial surrogacy.
“We do not recognise live-in and homosexual relationships, this is against our ethos,” said Swaraj (HT)
2. How many times can infertile couples seek surrogacy?
According to the newly approved bill, single women cannot be a surrogate mother and only the medical procedure will be paid for and nothing else. Surrogacy, said Ms Swaraj, has become an easy option for celebrities (Shah Rukh’s third child was born through surrogacy). It is also worth while to note that a woman be a surrogate mother only once in her lifetime and for eligible couples who seek surrogacy for reproduction can also avail it only once.
3. Why is the government regulating surrogacy?
Surrogacy in India has led to complaints of many tribal women being exploited and this bill aims to prevent exploitation of women, especially those in rural and tribal areas besides the Bill promises to ensure parentage of children born out of surrogacy is “legal and transparent.”
4. Who will oversee the implementation of the bill?
To oversee the implementation of the law, Surrogacy regulation board will be set-up at Central and State-level.
Activists fear that the high amount of regulation just like any industry will push the industry underground creating black market that will be bound by risks with elevated costs and consequential corruption. The implications of this law will only be observed in future. Instead of banning commercial surrogacy completely, we could have had better regulations that could have benefited surrogates mother and also the parents.