Source: News Bharati English24 Aug 2016 16:53:07

New Delhi, August 24: In a bid to protect the rights of surrogate mothers, Union cabinet on Wednesday approved the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 on Wednesday. According to the new rules for surrogacy, Foreigners, exiled Indians, single parents, live-in couples and homosexual couples will not be allowed surrogate babies after the new law is passed in parliament. 

Also, there will be a complete ban on commercial surrogacy. Childless couples, who are medically unfit to have children, can take help from a close relative, which is called altruistic surrogacy.

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What is Surrogacy?

Surrogacy is a practice in which a woman bears and gives birth to a child for an intending couple. After the birth, the child is handed over to the intending couple. The carrier of the children is called a surrogate mother. Intended parents usually seek a surrogacy arrangement when either pregnancy is medically impossible; pregnancy risks present an unacceptable danger to the mother's health.

Altruistic surrogacy

When the surrogacy process does not give any financial gain to the surrogate mother. In this surrogacy, no charges, expenses, fees, remuneration or monetary incentive of any nature is given to the mother giving birth to child. However, the expenses for things like medical facilities, travelling cost, time off work, insurance coverage etc are given to the surrogate mother.

Commercial surrogacy

This means commercialization of the service when the surrogate mother is given monetary incentive. Surrogate mothers receive medical, nutritional and overall health care through surrogacy agreements. The economic scale of surrogacy in India is unknown, but study backed by the United Nations in July 2012 estimated the business at more than $400 million a year, with over 3,000 fertility clinics across India.  

During the press conference to inform about the newly approved bill, Union Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj mentioned about the prominent points according to the new law. "Couple should be married and for at least five years, surrogacy will not be allowed if the couple has children." said Swaraj.

Pointing towards celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Tushar Kapoor, who had surrogate babies through commercial surrogacy, Swaraj commented that something that started as a necessity has now become a fad.

Without mentioning names Swaraj said “Celebrities are having surrogate babies, in spite of having two children, they had a third, just because the wife couldn't take the pain, and got someone else to bear their child." This means no one will be able to imitate these actors in future, as the new bill will not allow parents to go with the surrogacy process if they already have children.

Swaraj further said it had been decided that foreigners would not be allowed to have surrogate babies from India, not even overseas Indians. "We have had cases of girls being abandoned, a twin being left behind and disabled babies being rejected," the minister explained adding that  couple who get help from their relatives can only pay medical expenses. It is also yet to be defined who qualifies as a close relative.  

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Highlights of the Bill

  • Single parents, homosexual couples, couples in live-in relationships, foreign couples will not be allowed altruistic surrogacy.

  • It also makes it illegal for any foreign national to seek surrogate mothers in India.

  • The intending couple should be married for at least five years.

  • If a couple has a biological child or an adopted child altruistic surrogacy won't be allowed.

  • Indian couples with proven infertility will be allowed to take help of surrogate mothers.

  • Only a close relative of the intending couple shall act as a surrogate mother.

  • No women can act as surrogate mother more than once in her lifetime.

  • The intending couple has to accept the child born after surrogacy procedure. Couple cannot abandon the child born out of any condition after the process.   

  • A national regulator will be set up to oversee clinics that offer surrogate services.

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