In a move to ban commercial surrogacy, a bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday, which also seeks to protect women from exploitation and ensure the rights of the child born through surrogacy.
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 was introduced by Health Minister J P Nadda amid noisy opposition protest over the government’s demonetisation move. Once approved by Parliament, there will be a complete ban on commercial surrogacy, but altruistic surrogacy will be permitted for needy infertile couples under strict regulations.
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The bill entitles only Indian citizens to avail of surrogacy. But foreigners, NRIs and PIOs are not allowed to seek surrogacy in the country.
Homosexuals, single parents, and live-in couples are also not entitled for surrogacy. Also couples who already have children will not be allowed to go in for surrogacy, though they would be free to adopt a child under a separate law.
With no law governing surrogacy, India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from different countries. There have been incidents concerning unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers and abandonment of children born out of surrogacy.
The bill allows surrogacy only for legally married couples after five years of marriage and with a certificate from a doctor stating that they are medically unfit to produce a child. Women within the age group of 23 years to 50 years and men aged between 26 to 55 years will be eligible to go in for surrogacy.
In an attempt to check commercial exploitation and middlemen, the surrogate mother can only be a close relative, like a sister or sister-in-law who is married and has at least one healthy biological child. A woman can be a surrogate only once in her lifetime.