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The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for introduction of the “Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016”.
The Bill will regulate surrogacy in India by establishing National Surrogacy Board at the central level and State Surrogacy Boards and Appropriate Authorities in the State and Union Territories. The legislation will ensure effective regulation of surrogacy, prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile couples.
All infertile Indian married couple who want to avail ethical surrogacy will be benefited. Further the rights of surrogate mother and children born out of surrogacy will be protected. The Bill shall apply to whole of India, except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The major benefits of the Act would be that it will regulate the surrogacy services in the country. While commercial surrogacy will be prohibited including sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes, ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile couples will be allowed on fulfilment of certain conditions and for specific purposes. As such, it will control the unethical practices in surrogacy, prevent commercialization of surrogacy and will prohibit potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy.
No permanent structure is proposed to be created in the Draft Bill. Neither there are proposals for creating new posts. The proposed legislation, while covering an important area is framed in such a manner that it ensures effective regulation but does not add much vertically to the current regulatory structure already in place at the central as well as states. Accordingly, there will not be any financial implications except for the meetings of the National and State surrogacy Boards and Appropriate Authorities which will be met out of the regular budget of Central and State governments.
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, cleared by the Cabinet, only allows “altruistic surrogacy” for childless couples who have been married for at least five years. Then too, the surrogate mother should be a “close relative” of the couple, should be married and have borne a child of her own.
Briefing the press after the Cabinet meeting, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said foreigners, NRIs and PIOs who hold Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards have also been barred from opting for surrogacy as “divorces are very common in foreign countries”.
Swaraj headed the Group of Ministers (GoM) who finalised the Bill in its current form, dealing solely with surrogacy — in contrast to another Bill, which the department of health research has been working on for years now, seeking to regulate all aspects of assisted reproductive practices. There are enough regulations on IVF, Swaraj said.
New surrogacy Bill bars single parents, homosexuals, live-in couples, foreigners married woman who has at least one child of her own can be a surrogate mother only once in her lifetime. Childless or unmarried women are not allowed to be surrogate mothers.
Without taking any names, Swaraj said it was “unfortunate” that couples, who already have a son and a daughter of their own, opt for surrogacy “just because it is fashionable”.
Replying to a question, she said: “We do not recognise homosexual or live-in relationships, that is why they are not allowed to commission babies through surrogacy. It is against our ethos.”