Surrogacy is an agreement between a woman and a couple who want to have a child and hence hire a surrogate. India has been emerging as an internationally acclaimed market for surrogacy with nearly 2/3rd of the agreements coming from foreign nationals .Indian surrogates provided a cheaper market for couples costing as low as 3-4 lakhs . Also Indian surrogates have a higher conceiving rate. This flourishing market has both its hazards and advantages . The surrogacy bill has been given a clear nod in parliament .
- Banning commercial surrogacy .
- Foreign nationals can’t get Indian surrogate mothers.
- Legalising of surrogacy for infertile couples.
- Altruistic surrogacy allowed and limited only to close relatives.
- Surrogates will be paid only for the health and medical expenses according to the new framework.
- The couple can’t apply for surrogacy if they already have a child. Only if the child is mentally or physically impaired they can.
- The government has proposed that it will establish a National Surrogacy Board at the central level, chaired by the health minister, and State Surrogacy Boards and appropriate authorities in the states and union territories.
- Single parents will not be allowed to apply for surrogacy.
- Surrogates will not be kept anonymous as was the earlier case.
Defending Govt decision
- Various issues involved in surrogacy prompted to ban commercial surrogacy and limit its scope to altruistic purpose only.
- Surrogacy affects every stakeholder vis a vis children , parents, surrogates and the goverment itself.
- The child born out of surrogacy has someone else's DNA , artificially inseminated into the surrogates womb and then he will be living with an other couple as their child. It presents a strong ethical dilemma . If a foreign couple hire a surrogate in india then their are citizenship issues whether the child is to be considered as a natural born citizen of india or of the country to which the couple belongs . Then another negative trend of designer babies could develop in the future where famous personalities would donate their hormones . If the baby produced is disabled or there are twins then in certain cases the foreign people leave the babies to their own peril leading to the exploitation of the infant.
- The ethical dimension also revolve around good parenting where traditionally the biological mother is said to have a natural affection with the baby. Commercial surrogacy hampers it making the whole process insensitive. In denying surrogacy to single parent or to the lGBT couples is in line with the indian ethos and ethical considerations.
- Surrogates in india face exploitation in terms of payment , health expenditure, in case there are twins or the baby is disabled . An effective regulatory mechanism would check this. Limitimg surrogacy for altruistic purpose resolves the issue . Keeping in mind the various stakeholders with social , ethical and legal issues involved in surrogacy the goverment framed the surrogacy bill.
Negating the efficacy of the bill
- Surrogates should not be seen as wombs but as workers . If workers in an industry get exploited we do not ban them from working there rather proper checks through an effectively regularised mechanism is devised.
- Outrightly banning commercial surrogacy will defeat the very purpose of exploitation as the industry will go underground or shift to other countries eg. on banning surrogacy for gay couples in india many surrogates fled to kathmandu.
- In lieu of the thriving surrogate market, the proposed bill is a major setback. The bill has proved to be an impediment to the livelihood of the surrogates.
- Further the provision of anonymity that encouraged surrogates to come forward and evade the social stigma pertaining to surrogacy is repealed . Henceforth discouraging surrogacy.
What could have been done
- The govt. argued that the decision on the bill was on “ Indian Ethos “ highlighting again the judgmental stance pertaining to upholding traditional values for the societal interest. Instead of getting commercial surrogacy banned , it could have been regulated heavily so as to avoid exploitation of the surrogate mother.
- Adequate social security nets could have been provided. Had the govt. adopted this path all the stakeholders would have been satiated. The right of a surrogate to enter into the agreement would have been upheld.