India has come up with a new Surrogacy Bill which allows any “willing” woman to be a surrogate mother and proposes that widows and divorced women can also benefit from its provisions, besides infertile Indian couples. The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Feb 26 approved the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2020 approving all suggestions of the Parliament’s Selection Committee.
The bill incorporates all recommendations made by a Rajya Sabha selection committee, which studied an earlier version of the draft legislation, and is aimed at banning commercial surrogacy and allowing altruistic surrogacy, said Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and Smriti Irani briefing media about the new details of the bill.
Commercial surrogacy will be prohibited including sale and purchase of human embryos and gametes, ethical surrogacy to the Indian Married couple, Indian Origin Married Couple and Indian Single Woman (only widow or Divorcee) will be allowed on fulfillment of certain conditions.
Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said the bill proposes that only Indian couples, with both partners being of Indian origins, can opt for surrogacy in the country. She said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has led from the front with a liberal view on the issues of reproductive rights of women, whether it is medical termination of pregnancy, the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill or the surrogacy bill.
The Amended Bill is a reformed version of the draft legislation which was passed by Lok Sabha in August 2019 but its provisions, including that only a close relative of a couple can be a surrogate mother, had invited criticism. The Government then agreed to send the bill to a Rajya Sabha selection committee, which is headed by BJP MP Bhupender Yadav, for holding wide consultations with various stakeholders and making recommendations. The Amended Bill is likely to be tabled in the forthcoming Session of Parliament which starts on Mar 2, 2020.
Surrogacy also proposes to regulate surrogacy by establishing National Surrogacy Board at the central level and, State Surrogacy Board and appropriate authorities in states and Union Territories respectively. The proposed insurance cover for surrogate mother has now been increased to 36 months from 16 months provided in the earlier version.
While commercial surrogacy will be prohibited including sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes, ethical surrogacy to Indian married couples, Indian-origin married couples and Indian single woman (only widow or divorcee between the age of 35 and 45 years) will be allowed on fulfillment of certain conditions.
The major benefit of the Act would be that it will regulate surrogacy services in the country. While commercial surrogacy will be prohibited including sale and purchase of human embryos and gametes, ethical surrogacy to the Indian Married couple, Indian Origin Married Couple and Indian Single Woman (only widow or Divorcee) will be allowed on fulfillment of certain conditions. As such, it will control the unethical practices in surrogacy, prevent commercialization of surrogacy and will prohibit the potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy, said Government in a statement.