Law on anvil to end rent of womb
In a major decision, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the Health Ministry’s draft Surrogacy Bill, 2016, which aims at regulating commissioning of surrogacy in the country in a proper manner.
Dubbing the decision of the Cabinet as historic, Union Health Minister JP Nadda told Millennium Post that the Bill was the need of the hour to curb unfair practises. “Surrogacy was allowed to meet the needs of unfit couples but it has become a most flourishing commercial activity. We can’t allow the commercialisation of women’s womb,” Nadda said.
The new Bill entitles the right of surrogacy to married couples only and that too on condition that the couple has been declared medically unfit to have a biological child of their own after being married for five years. The Bill has banned commercial surrogacy and allowed “altruistic surrogacy” with a mandatory condition that unfit couples would only approach its close relations for being the surrogate of their embryo.
According to the proposed Bill, the definition of close relation is sister of unfit woman and man, sister-in-laws of the couple, etc. The Bill also makes it must that a married woman having a biological child would only be allowed to become surrogate for anyone in her close relation. A widow, having a child, can also become a surrogate mother of her relatives. “As per the rule, a woman can rent out her womb for only one time in her life. If child dies after birth out of a surrogacy process, in this condition, the couple would be allowed to have another child following the similar process but the surrogate mother would be different,” Nadda told Millennium Post.
“The new Bill doesn’t allow unmarried couples, single parents, live-in partners and homosexuals to opt for surrogacy as it will again encourage unethical trading of sperms and eggs. If they want to have a child, they can adopt a child,” said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is the head of group of ministers on surrogacy.
Swaraj further added: “The decision to prohibit foreigners from commissioning surrogacy in the country has been taken to prevent exploitation of women, especially those in rural and tribal areas.
The Bill was needed as India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples. There are several incidents of unethical practices that have been reported in several years. We have also come across with the facts that intended couples abandon girl child and abnormal babies, which add more woes to the surrogate mothers.”
The proposed surrogacy Bill will regulate the practice in India by establishing the National Surrogacy Board at the central level and State Surrogacy Boards and appropriate authorities in the states and Union Territories. The legislation will also ensure effective regulation of surrogacy, prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile couples.
All infertile married couples who want to avail ethical surrogacy will be benefited. Further, the rights of surrogate mother and children born out of it will be protected. The Bill would apply to whole of India, except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from different countries and there have been reported incidents concerning unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and rackets of intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes.
The 228th report of the Law Commission of India has also recommended prohibition of commercial surrogacy and allowing ethical altruistic surrogacy to needy citizens by enacting a suitable legislation.