What are the objectives of the bill?
The Lok Sabha passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019. The Bill is aimed at ending the exploitation of women who are lending their womb for surrogacy, and protecting the rights of children born through this. The Bill will also look after the interests of the couple that opt for surrogacy, ensuring that there are laws protecting them against exploitation by clinics that are carrying this out as a business.
Why commercial surrogacy has been banned in India?
There are very few countries in the world which allow commercial surrogacy, with experts arguing that this is exploitation and abuse of human dignity. We cannot allow women in our country to be exploited without them actually understanding what is happening with them.
What does bill provide for?
The Bill seeks to ban commercial surrogacy and provides for constituting a National Surrogacy Board, State Surrogacy Boards, and the appointment of appropriate authorities for the regulation of the practice and process of surrogacy.
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill regulates altruistic surrogacy and prohibits commercial surrogacy. It defines surrogacy as a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an eligible couple and agrees to hand over the child to them after the birth.
The Bill allows altruistic surrogacy, which involves a surrogacy arrangement where the monetary reward only involves medical expenses and insurance coverage for the surrogate mother. Commercial surrogacy is prohibited under the Bill. This type of surrogacy includes a monetary benefit or reward (in cash or kind) that exceeds basic medical expenses and insurance for the surrogate mother.
Provisions for altruistic surrogacy
The couple intending to commission a surrogacy arrangement must be a close relative of the surrogate mother. In addition, the couple have to be Indian citizens who have been married for at least five years and are in the age group of 23-50 years (female partner) and 26-55 years (male partner), and secure a medical certificate stating that either or both partners are infertile.
The couple also should not have any surviving child (whether biological, adopted or surrogate), except if the surviving child is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from a fatal illness, among other provisions.
The surrogate mother, apart from proving that she is a close relative of the couple intending the surrogacy, has to married with a child of her own, in the age bracket of 25 to 35 years old, and should not have been a surrogate mother before. The Bill states that any child born out of a surrogacy procedure shall be the biological child of the intending couple and will be entitled to all rights and privileges that are available to a natural child.