A bill proposing a complete ban on commercial surrogacy and allowing only legally wedded Indian couples to opt for children through it was recently approved by the government to check unethical practices.
The Union Cabinet gave its nod to the introduction of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 in Parliament, seeking a bar on unmarried couples, single parents, live-in partners and homosexuals from opting for surrogacy.
The move is aimed at curbing unethical practices in the country which was emerging as a hub of commercial surrogacy. The bill has a provision for a jail term up to ten years and a fine of Rs 10 lakh for violations, such as abandoning the child and opting for commercial surrogacy.
“The new bill proposes a complete ban on commercial surrogacy in the country and will allow only legally wedded Indian couples married for at least five years to have children through surrogacy.
“Foreigners as well as NRIs and PIOs who hold Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards have been barred from opting for surrogacy,” external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj told reporters after the meeting.
“Unmarried couples, single parents, live-in partners and homosexuals cannot opt for surrogacy as per the bill. Legally wedded couples who have been married for at least five years, can opt for surrogacy,” she said.
Only “close relatives” of couples seeking children will be allowed to be surrogate mothers. A woman, who offers her womb for the purpose, will be able to do so only once as per the bill.
The woman wanting a child through the method will be the mother as per the proposed law. There is a provision under the measure for a contract to clear any ambiguity.
Only altruistic surrogacy will be allowed in a regulated form with some condition, the bill said.
A woman seeking a surrogate child should between 23 and 50 years in age and her husband should be between 26 and 55 years.
A surrogate child will have equal right as any other biological or adopted child over property, Swaraj said.
Moreover, the surrogate mother, who should be a close relative of the couple, should be married and have borne a healthy child.
Swaraj said with India having over 2,000 surrogacy clinics, there was need to regulate the practice and only altruisic surrogacy will be allowed as per the bill.
The bill comes in the wake of India emerging as a surrogacy hub for couples and incidents being reported on unethical practices.
It also seeks to set up national surrogacy board at the central level as well as in states and Union territories.
The bill, which will come up for consideration in Parliament during the Winter Session, aims to safeguard the rights of surrogate mothers and make parentage of such children legal.
Source: The Times of India