The National Commission for Women (NCW) is set to recommend to the health ministry that single women be allowed to become surrogate mothers. The decision was taken at a national consultation on surrogacy organised by the body.
“In the draft Bill [governing surrogacy], only married women are allowed to become surrogate mothers. But we felt this restricts the reproductive rights of single women. All single women, unmarried, divorced or separated, should be allowed to become surrogate mothers,” said Lalitha Kumaramangalam, chairperson of NCW.
The commission also wants to bar NRIs and Indians settled overseas from commissioning surrogate services in India, to prevent exploitation of women. “The Bill does not allow foreigners to avail of surrogacy, but we think that should be widened to include NRIs and Overseas Citizens of India, because surrogacy is essentially a contract between the haves and have nots,” Kumaramangalam said.
Surrogacy and other issues of fertility treatment are dealt with in the The Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill, in the works for several years now. The draft ART Bill has recently been uploaded on the health ministry website and stakeholders have been asked to send in their comments by November 15.
The consultation organised on Thursday was attended by officials from the health ministry, home ministry, women and child development ministry, the National Human Rights Commission and state governments, among others.