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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Govt defers surrogacy Bill in Rajya Sabha after members oppose provisions

The Bill, which seeks to ban commercial surrogacy, was passed by Lok Sabha in Monsoon Session and was taken up for discussion in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi | Published: November 21, 2019 12:21:51 am
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The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday deferred passage of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill after several members opposed certain provisions in the legislation and demanded that the Bill be modified.

The members sought changes in provisions that only a close relative can be a surrogate mother, as well as the clause that surrogacy is permitted for couples after at least five years of marriage.

The Bill, which seeks to ban commercial surrogacy, was passed by Lok Sabha in Monsoon Session and was taken up for discussion in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, several members had argued that the government has not taken into consideration recommendations made by the Parliamentary standing committee which scrutinised the Bill. Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav, who headed the committee, said the government did not accept 13 major recommendations.

Many members spoke on similar lines on Wednesday as well.

Given the sentiment, the government is learnt to have decided not to rush with the Bill and instead examine various amendments suggested by the members and have a re-look at the standing committee’s report to see whether it can incorporate any of the suggestions.

Accordingly, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi proposed that the House discuss the Bill up to 4 pm and thereafter take up another Bill. The surrogacy Bill “may be continued tomorrow (Thursday)”, he said.

Sources said Congress’s M V Rajeev Gowda had given many amendments to the Bill.

On Tuesday, Gowda had said the Bill in its present form would not serve the purpose for which it was intended. He said the Bill should be aligned to the 21st century, not the “Victorian Era”. It has some “unjust provisions” and impracticalities, he said.

On Wednesday, Congress’s Jairam Ramesh said the Bill in its present form will in effect drive surrogacy out of the market. He said: “It is mind-boggling that we are going to be passing a Bill which is going to make only a close relative a surrogate mother. This flies in the face of our understanding of Indian families, of Indian society, and I am absolutely surprised that a Bill can come in this fashion that (says) surrogacy will be restricted to a close relative.”

“If we recognise that infertility is a problem, if we recognise that infertility is on the rise, if we recognise that people want surrogacy… then this Bill is the wrong Bill. This Bill will put an end to any form of surrogacy because we can’t expect that only the sisters or sister-in-law or some close relative is going to come forward… this is going to create more emotional problems, more psychological problems than we can never imagine…. So this close relative thing is a very dangerous element in the Bill,” he said.

He said the Bill also is silent on the question of prior informed consent.

The DMK also said it is opposed to the Bill in its present form.

Pointing out the Bill’s shortcomings, CPI’s Binoy Viswam said, “Why is a single woman not allowed to have a child through surrogacy? The Bill is silent on that. There are many other social issues and sections, for example, transgenders… Surrogacy is meant for people of all sects, all human beings and all social gatherings. But eliminating certain sections from the purview of the Bill cannot be appreciated.”

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