The Surrogacy Bill, 2019 was introduced by the MHFW, Dr. Harsh Vardhan in Lok Sabha on July 15, 2019. We do not need to define what surrogacy is, for the readers of this article. This topic is far ahead of time and definition.
Let’s start understanding some important aspects noted in the bill
- The Bill now allows only altruistic surrogacy. And what does that mean? Altruistic surrogacy basically involves no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expenses and insurance coverage during the pregnancy. Some ask questions, how is it one benefits by receiving a child, and the other only has to bear the child and the risks associated with them, without any benefit.
- The intending couple should have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority. Much needed document. But by putting the power in the hands of few, will that help the many?
- Who can be a surrogate? a close relative of the intending couple who is married, have her own child, between 25 to 35 years old. Very pro surrogate health point and appreciated. But wait a minute, how does one define close relative? Hopefully, it’s given in the definition of the complete ACT.
- Surrogacy clinics can undertake surrogacy only if they are registered by the appropriate authority.
- Most of the other laws towards parentage and abortion laws follow the standard practice needed to protect the child, surrogate and parent rights. This bill has all of that in its priority.
- If a clinic or agency undertakes or advertises commercial surrogacy the penalty for such offenses is imprisonment up to 10 years and a fine up to 10 lakh rupees.
India had emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from other countries. Government has claimed that there are reports concerning unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy, and rackets involving intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes. Interestingly one RTI sent to the DHR had mentioned that no written complaints were received none of the clinics or anybody has seen or read such report. Though the bill states that “The 228th report of the Commission of India” has recommended prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing altruistic surrogacy by enacting suitable legislation. The actual bill title is “NEED FOR LEGISLATION TO REGULATE ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY CLINICS AS WELL AS RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF PARTIES TO A SURROGACY”
and the excerpt shows
“Most important points in regard to the rights and obligations of the parties to a surrogacy and rights of the surrogate child the proposed legislation should include have been given in this Report.”
While commercial surrogacy will be prohibited, interestingly it has included sale and purchase of human embryos and gametes under banner.
So as a whole, as much one can understand, it was the time to bring in regulation to indeed regulate the activities of different parties involved and also to protect the rights of child, surrogate and the parents. At what cost? Banning nearly all possible options for a couple to have a child? Or the fact that very few countries in the world allow commercial aspect, its right to regulate it in India too!