The Surrogacy bill was approved by Lok Sabha and introduced in Rajya Sabha on Monday, 5th August 2019. The Bill regulates the surrogacy services to prevent exploitation of surrogate mothers and to protect the rights of children born through surrogacy.
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 regulates surrogacy by establishing National and State Surrogacy Board in India. The State and Union Territories shall constitute a State Surrogacy Board. The 228th report of Indian Commission recommended the prohibition of commercial surrogacy and has allowed the altruistic surrogacy by enacting legislation.
Altruistic surrogacy refers to those surrogacy agreements where the surrogate does not receive any monetary compensation. In most altruistic surrogacy agreements, the surrogate is a close relation to the intended parents (family member/close friend).
The main purpose of the bill is to prohibit illegal commercial surrogacy. It states that the intending couples should not abandon a child under any situation. Our country has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from other countries.
The unethical practice, exploitation of surrogate mother, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and rackets involved in intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes are reported in our country on a large scale. Ethical Surrogacy for couples will be allowed on the fulfilment of specific conditions.
No permanent structure is created in the proposed bill. The government assures that there will be no financial implication except the National Surrogacy Boards and appropriate authorities to get the administrative budget of respective departments.
Another clause added is that the couple should be legally married for at least five years before attempting to deliver a baby through surrogate mother.
This clause attracted the issue of why should a couple have to wait for five years after marriage and what is the definition of a legally married couple.
Critics say that bill had left single parent and aspiring parents from alternative sexualities out of the ambit of the law and hence making it very narrow.
The bill allows only altruistic surrogacy by infertile Indian couples from a close relative, and prohibit the foreigners from commissioning surrogacy. Single parents, homosexuals and live-in couples, cannot apply for surrogacy.
Some amendments moved by the opposition are rejected. Health Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that India has emerged as a hub for surrogacy in recent years due to the absence of any specific law regulating the sector.
The offences under the Bill include undertaking or advertising commercial surrogacy, exploiting the surrogate mother and abandoning, exploiting or disowning a surrogate child.
The bill aims to keep a check on such clinics by protecting many poor women from exploitation.
According to Bill, women within the age group of twenty-three years to fifty years and men with the age group of twenty-six years to fifty-five years will be eligible for surrogacy.