Millennium Post

Govt erases closed-relative norm; allows widow, divorcee women to avail facility

New Delhi: With the Union Cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi clearing the Amended Surrogacy Bill after incorporating the recommendations of a Rajya Sabha select committee, it seems the government has taken a major step to make surrogacy a

hassle-free as the government has extended the surrogacy facility to widows and divorced women.

As per the amended Bill, the couples would now need not to be dependent on their 'closed relatives' for opting surrogacy procedure as the government has changed the existing clause and allowed "willing" women to be a surrogate. "The Cabinet has accepted all the recommendations of the select committee. The Bill seeking to regulate the practice and process of surrogacy was introduced and passed in Lok Sabha in August last. The Rajya Sabha, however, referred it to the select committee," said Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar while briefing about the decisions taken at the Cabinet meeting.

"The bill incorporates all recommendations made by a Rajya Sabha select committee, which studied an earlier version of the draft legislation, and is aimed at banning commercial surrogacy and allowing altruistic surrogacy," Javadekar told reporters.

The 23-member committee had suggested 15 major changes to the Bill. In order to protect the interests of the child born through surrogacy, it recommended that the order regarding the parentage and custody of the child, issued by a magistrate, shall be the birth affidavit for the surrogate child.

The committee wanted to delete the definition of "infertility" as the inability to conceive after five years of unprotected intercourse on the ground that it was too long a period for a couple to wait for a child.

On the occasion, Union Minister Smriti Irani said that the Cabinet had decided to extend the surrogacy facility to widows and divorced women. The surrogate could be a "willing woman", not a close relative, as per the previous draft of the Bill. The five-year marriage period for infertile couple clause has also been removed in the amended bill that would be introduced in the House for the passage.

Commenting the decision, gynaecologist Dr Meenakshi T Sahu said, "I fail to find any difference to what the surrogacy world was few years back. While genuine needs will be fulfilled, but poor will continue to be exploited and lured by different means to show them as "willing" surrogates."

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