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Surrogacy bill passed by LS

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The Lok Sabha has passed The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 banning commercial surrogacy in India, limiting the service for altruistic purposes only, in the first-ever national attempt to regulate the $2 billion industry.

What is surrogacy?
It’s a practice where a woman bears a child for a couple with the intention of handing it over to them and where neither of the gametes — eggs or sperms — belong either to her or her husband. Surrogacy involves creating human embryos through IVF and then implanting these for pregnancy in another woman’s womb; it is needed only when a woman cannot bear a child.

What is altruistic surrogacy?
The bill defines altruistic surrogacy as “one which involves no monetary incentive, except medical expenses incurred on the surrogate mother and insurance coverage for her when pregnant”; and says a surrogate can only be a close relative of the intending couple. The word “close relative” will be defined by the National Surrogacy Board that will come up after the Bill becomes law.

Why altruistic surrogacy is favored over commercial surrogacy?
The Bill comes against the backdrop of reports of unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and rackets around intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes were reported. There have been cases of abuse of services by foreigners. In 2012, an Australian couple took home only one child when twins were born. On Jan 29, 2014, 26-year-old surrogate died in Delhi during a surgical procedure to harvest eggs from body. In 2016, Baby Maji abandoned by Japanese couple after the couple divorced. Surrogacy cannot be a fashion, hobby or a pleasure for actors who don’t want their wives to undergo labour or who already have biological children. Surrogacy must have a purpose. This Bill is in line with the Indian ethos.

Who can be a surrogate?
A married Indian woman with a child of her own aged 25 to 35 years; no woman can be a surrogate more than once.

Who can avail surrogacy?
Indian and NRI couples married for five years with no child and with proven infertility. Husband must be 26 to 55 years and wife 23 to 50 years; they should be childless. The service will be available only for infertile Indian and NRI couples who have been married for five years and have tried all other assisted reproductive technology means to have a child and failed.

Who are barred from surrogacy?
The Bill bars foreigners, Persons of Indian Origin, Overseas Citizens of India, single, divorced persons, widows and members of LGBT community from engaging surrogates.

Monitoring set-up:
State-level surrogacy boards will monitor implementation of the law and receive complaints or take suo motu action for violations. The national surrogacy board will frame code of conduct for surrogacy clinics. Appropriate authorities at state level will invite surrogacy applications from indenting couples.

The Bill provides for up to 10-year imprisonment and Rs 10-lakh fine for contravention of provisions

Key provisions:
• The legislation prescribes eligibility for surrogates and intending couples. A surrogate mother can only be a married woman with a child of her own. Intending couples can’t have a previous child, biological or adopted.
• Married Indian couples with a mentally disabled child can, however, engage a surrogate.
• The Bill mandates registration of surrogacy clinics and requires intending couples to produce a certificate of medical infertility to the appropriate authority to become eligible.
• It allows the surrogate child same rights as a biological child and also makes it compulsory for intending couples to sign parentage orders to guarantee they won’t abandon the baby once born.

Critiqued for leaving out single women who are allowed by law to adopt children, the Bill intends to discourage rather than encourage surrogacy while ensuring that adoption remains the choice for childless couples. Experts claim that the stringent rules and regulations may encourage couples to turn toward adoption. Surrogacy is a moral, social and emotional issue concerning parenthood. There must not be a 5-year clause to prove infertility, when science and technology has progressed so much. Bill must mould itself in a more modern shape by considering cases of potential single parents, widows, same sex couples who want to have children as well, especially after recent progressive judgments.

Vivek Rana By - Vivek Rana
Posted On - 12/21/2018 12:00:00 AM

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