20 Sep 2016. Surrogacy is when a woman carries a fetus for another couple and gives up the baby at birth. In the past decade, commercial surrogacy has grown fast in India. It is currently estimated to be a $2-billion industry. Before Nov 2015, when the government imposed a ban, foreigners accounted for 80 per cent of surrogacy births in the country. This is because most countries, barring a few, do not permit commercial surrogacy. Many countries in Europe have completely prohibited surrogacy arrangements, both to protect the reproductive health of the surrogate mother as well as the future of the new born child. A need was felt to regulate surrogacy in India and hence the cabinet recently approved the surrogacy bill. In this blog Aneesh has analyzed the “Surrogacy Bill”.
Commercial Surrogacy in India
India is a major destination for commercial surrogacy. Indian surrogates have been increasingly popular with foreign parents because of the relatively low cost. The availability of medical infrastructure and potential surrogates at roughly one third of the cost outside, combined with international demand, has fueled the growth of the industry. Surrogate mothers receive medical, nutritional and overall health care through surrogacy agreements.
Surrogacy Laws in Other Countries
- Australia recognizes only altruistic surrogacy through close friends and relatives.
- Canada permits only altruistic surrogacy: surrogate mothers may be reimbursed for approved expenses but payment of any other consideration or fee is illegal.
- China bans all forms of surrogacy.
- UK permits only altruistic surrogacy through blood relatives.
- USA allows for commercial surrogacy in some states while it is banned in others.
Highlights of Surrogacy Bill
- The Surrogacy Bill aims at regulating commissioning of surrogacy in India.
- The Bill aims to prevent exploitation of women, especially those in rural and tribal areas.
- The Bill promises to ensure parentage of children born out of surrogacy is “legal and transparent.”
- The new Bill proposes complete ban on commercial surrogacy.
- As per the Bill, only legally-wedded Indian couples can have children through surrogacy, provided at least one of them has had fertility-related issues.
- Foreigners, even overseas Indians, are barred from commissioning surrogacy.
- A woman will be allowed to become a surrogate mother only for altruistic purpose and under no circumstances money shall be paid to her, except for medical expenses.
- Unmarried couples, single parents, live-in partners and homosexuals cannot opt for surrogacy.
- Only one surrogacy will be allowed per couple.
- Couples already having children, whether natural or adopted, will not be eligible for surrogacy.
- Surrogacy regulation boards will be set-up at the Centre and State-levels.
Prognosis: Surrogacy Bill
It is almost unanimously agreed that there was a need for regulating the subject as the medical profession has failed to regulate itself. There have been cases of exploitation of poor women as the contracts had not been honored, particularly in cases which resulted in complications and even death of the surrogate mother. There is a view that the Bill infringes upon the freedom of individuals and proposes to end the commercial potential of poor women to generate income for their families. The poor families who stood to benefit and the medical people involved in the business are naturally against the Bill.
The Bill is open to amendments. It should be realized that on such social issues government cannot expect to obtain unanimous approval. If an enactment of law can ensure the greater good of the society then it should be treated as a good law. The objective of the government appears to be that and should be appreciated.