The Indian government has cleared the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 that makes it unlawful commercial surrogacy illegal and outlaws single people, married couples who have biological/ adopted children, live-in partners and homosexuals from using the option of surrogacy. The Cabinet approved the bill to allow “altruistic surrogacy” for couples without child even after at least five years of marriage. Moreover, the surrogate mother should be a relative of the couple and she should have children of her own. The Bill will ensure effective regulation of surrogacy, prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile couples.
Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister, stated that the Bill bans foreigners, NRIs and PIOs who hold Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards to use the option of surrogacy due to divorces becoming common phenomena in foreign countries.
Sushma led the Group of Ministers (GoM) involved in finalising the Bill in its current form, focusing only on surrogacy, as opposed to another Bill, which the department of health research has been spending time for years now, aimed at regulating all aspects of assisted reproductive practices. Sushma added that the laws on IVF are already adequate.
The new surrogacy Bill allows a married woman with at least one child of her own to act as a surrogate mother only once in her lifetime. Moreover, it bans childless or unmarried women from acting as surrogate mothers. Importantly, lately India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from different countries. There have been several reported cases concerning unethical practices of surrogacy across country. Incidents such as exploitation of surrogate mothers, desertion of children born out of surrogacy and rackets of intermediaries importing human gametes and embryos were also reported.
Sushma opined that it is quite regrettable that some couples having their own son and daughter prefer to go for surrogacy as it is considered fashionable to do so. Sushma also emphasised that the reason for not allowing homosexual or live-in relationships to opt for surrogacy as such relationships are not recognised in the country.