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Present Context

  • The Lok Sabha has passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016 that seeks to put a blanket ban on commercial surrogacy and regulate altruistic surrogacy in India.
  • The bill was cleared by the Union cabinet in March 2018 after the recommendations of a Parliamentary Standing Committee constituted in 2017 for the purpose.
  • Commercial surrogacy has been legal in India since 2002 as a result of which India has emerged as a surrogacy hub of the world.
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Surrogacy: A Backgrounder

  • Surrogacy is a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an eligible couple and agrees to hand over the child after the birth to them.
  • Altruistic surrogacy involves a surrogacy arrangement where the monetary reward only involves medical expenses and insurance coverage for the surrogate mother.
  • Commercial surrogacy includes a monetary benefit or reward (in cash or kind) that exceeds basic medical expenses and insurance for the surrogate mother.
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Need for Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill

  • With no law governing surrogacy, India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from different countries.
  • Growing number of unethical practices.
  • Exploitation of surrogate mothers
  • Abandonment of children born out of surrogacy.
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Major Objectives of Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill

  • To regulate surrogacy services in the country
  • To provide altruistic ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile Indian couples and
  • To prohibit commercial surrogacy including sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes.
  • This is done in order to prevent commercialization of surrogacy and consequent exploitation of surrogate mothers in India.
  • The bill also aims to protect rights of children born out of surrogacy
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Main Provisions of the Bill

  • It puts a blanket ban on commercial surrogacy with penal provisions of jail term of up to 10 years and fine of up to 10 lakh.
  • According to the bill, an Indian infertile couple, married for five years or more, can go in for ‘altruistic surrogacy’.
  • Women within the age group of 23 years to 50 years and men aged between 26 and 55 years will be eligible to go in for surrogacy.
  • Further the couple shall possess a certificate from doctor stating that they are medically unfit to produce a child.
  • The bill permits only ‘close relatives’ to be surrogate mothers.
  • A woman can be a surrogate only once in her lifetime.
  • The surrogate mother will not be paid any compensation except medical expenses and insurance.
  • The bill covers 18-month care expenses and insurance cover for the surrogate mother.
  • Altruistic surrogacy can be availed only by a defined mother and family.
  • It won’t be permitted for live-in partners, single parents or Homosexuals.
  • Only Indian citizens are entitled to avail surrogacy.
  • Foreigners, NRIs and PIOs are not allowed to commission surrogacy in the country.
  • Besides, couples who already have children will not be allowed to opt for surrogacy.
  • The bill also provides for constitution of The National Surrogacy board and State Surrogacy board which shall be the policy making and regulating bodies.
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Some Lacuna

  • In the aftermath of recent decriminalization of Section 377, same- sex couples should have been considered.
  • Further the bill does not define who is a close relative.

Source: The Hindu