City-based gynaecologists have urged the Parliamentary Standing Committee on health and family welfare — which is currently examining the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 — to clarify Clause 50 of the Bill. “We are concerned whether the Surrogacy Regulation Bill, 2016 will be applicable to the pregnant surrogate mothers or children existing before the Act is enforced,” Dr Machave, national coordinator of the Ethics and Medico legal committee of the Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Society of India, said.
“The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 has to be introduced in the Lok Sabha. However, we are unable to ascertain the exact intent and position of the legislature along with the effect of Clause 50. It is important to clarify specially as it involves the rights and liabilities of surrogate mothers and other parties involved in commercial surrogacies prior to the Act being enforced,” Dr Machave said.
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 bans commercial surrogacy in India. It also bars foreigners, homosexual couples, people in live-in relationships and single individuals, making only childless, straight Indian couple married for a minimum of five years eligible for surrogacy. Eligible couples will have to turn to close relatives, not necessarily related by blood for altruistic surrogacy, where no money exchanges hands between the commissioning couple and the surrogate mother.
Clause 50 of the said Bill states: “Subject to the provisions of this Act, there shall be provided a gestation period of ten months from the date of coming into force of this Act to existing surrogate mothers to protect their well being.” According to Machave, the interpretation of Clause 50 of the Bill is that the provisions of this Act will apply to the existing surrogate mothers to the extent that is possible. Also then what would be the exact meaning of the gestation period and intent of providing the gestation period of 10 months, Machave said and has written to Dinesh Singh, Joint Director, Rajya Sabha Secretariat, for further clarification.
Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj had on August 24, 2016 said that the provision of the Act shall not be made applicable to the pregnant surrogate mothers or children existing prior to the Act coming into force for a period of 10 months.