Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill referred to select committee
The Rajya Sabha referred the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill to a select committee on November 21, 2019, seeking certain amendments proposed by the members of the house.
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill seeks to prohibit commercial surrogacy and regulate altruistic and proved infertility surrogacy in India. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha during the monsoon session of the Parliament on August 5.
The resolution to refer the bill to a select committee was moved by Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan. The house was divided upon certain contentious provisions of the bill.
Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill: Contentious provisions
1. The bill proposes five years waiting period for a couple to avail surrogacy measures.
2. It allows only close relatives of the couple to be the surrogate mother.
3. The bill also did not propose any medical aid, insurance or other benefits for the surrogate mother. It also does not include surrogacy provisions for same-sex couples and people who are in live-in relationships.
4. The Bill, in its present form only allows altruistic surrogacy, under which only medical expenses and insurance cover are provided to the surrogate mother.
5. Section 4 of the bill allows surrogacy in cases of proven infertility. The provision prohibits surrogacy for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation.
Congress MP Jairam Ramesh vehemently opposed the second provision of the bill that allows only a close relative to be a surrogate mother, saying that it was drafted without taking note of the realities of Indian families and that it effectively ends the practice of surrogacy instead of regulating it, as it is unrealistic to expect one's sister or sister in law to be a surrogate mother.
Other MPs including AIADMK MP Vijila Sathyanath opposed the first provision of the bill that proposes 5 years of waiting time for a couple seeking surrogacy measures. The MP questioned the need to wait for 5 years, especially in cases where the woman seeking surrogacy does not have a uterus.
Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill: Key provisions and everything you need to know
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill proposes the establishment of a National Surrogacy Board and State Surrogacy Boards under Chapter V, for the regulation of surrogacy. Section 4 of the bill also proposes the appointment of other appropriate authorities to issue 'certificate of essentiality' and 'certificate of eligibility' to the couples seeking surrogacy.
Certificate of essentiality
A certificate of essentiality will be issued to the couples seeking surrogacy only if they have;
a) Magistrate's court order of parentage and custody of the surrogate child.
b) Certificate of proven infertility from a District Medical Board
c) Medical insurance cover for surrogate mother for 16 months
Certificate of eligibility
A certificate of eligibility will be issued to the couples:
a) Who are Indian citizens, married for at least 5 year
b) Who do not have any surviving child, whether biological, adopted or surrogate, not including a special child or a child who suffers from a life-threatening illness.
c) Where the husband is aged between 26-55 years and wife is aged between 23-50 years.
Surrogate Mother Eligibility
Under section 4 of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, a woman is eligible to be a surrogate mother:
• If she has a certificate of eligibility from the appropriate authority
• If she has a certificate of medical and psychological fitness for surrogacy
• If she is a close relative of the intending couple
• If she is a married woman having a child of her own
• If she is aged between 25 to 35 years
• If she is a surrogate only once in her lifetime
Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill: Key Provisions
• Section 7 of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill prohibits abandoning of a child born out of surrogacy. Under the bill’s provisions, the surrogate child shall be deemed as the biological child of the intending couple.
• Chapter IV of the bill states that no surrogacy clinics shall operate without due registration, which will be granted by an appropriate authority.
• The bill also prohibits the abortion of a surrogate child without the written consent of the surrogate mother and the authorization of the appropriate authority. Further, the authorization has to comply with the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.
• However, the surrogate mother will always have the option to withdraw from surrogacy before the embryo is implanted in her womb.
Section 35 of the bill proposes imprisonment up to 10 years and a fine up to Rs 10 lakh in case a person is found:
a) Advertising commercial surrogacy in any form.
b) Exploiting the surrogate mother
c) Abandoning or exploiting a surrogate child
d) Selling or importing human embryos for surrogacy.
Altruistic surrogacy is the accepted form of surrogacy in which no fees, remuneration or any kind of monetary incentive are given to the surrogate mother, except the medical expenses and the insurance coverage.
Commercial surrogacy means commercialisation of surrogacy services such as selling or buying of A human embryo or trading the services of the surrogate motherhood by giving remuneration or any kind of monetary incentive, both cash and kind, to the surrogate mother or her dependents, beside the medical expenses incurred and the insurance coverage of the surrogate mother.