- 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
- 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