The Lok Sabha on Monday passed a Bill to ban commercial surrogacy in the country.
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 provides for constitution of surrogacy boards at national and state levels, as well as that intending couples should not abandon such a child under any condition.
Terming the need to ban commercial surrogacy as “the need of the hour”, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said almost all countries had banned it.
The minister assured the members that once the rules of the proposed law are in place, it would make the legislation stronger. “There are about 2,000-3,000 surrogacy clinics running illegally in the country and a few thousand foreign couples resort to surrogacy practice within India and the whole thing is thoroughly unregulated,” he said.
The Bill proposes that only close relatives will be permitted to act as surrogates to infertile couples for “ethical altruistic” reasons. “There have been reports concerning unethical practices, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and exploitation of surrogate mothers,” the minister said.
He said the 228th report of the Law Commission had recommended that the government should enact a legislation to ensure that there is only restrictive surrogacy in the country and commercial surrogacy is banned.
Only Indian couples who have been legally married for at least five years would be allowed to opt for surrogacy, as per the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill.
The Bill seeks to “allow ethical altruistic surrogacy to the intending infertile Indian married couple between the age of 23-50 years and 26-55 years for female and male, respectively”.
Ravi Kishan of the BJP said surrogacy should not become a trade and nobody should be allowed to misuse it. AIMIM member Imtiaz Jaleel Syed opposed the Bill, saying the proposed law was “anti-children” and the authorities proposed in it would only be toothless tigers in absence of the provision for funding.
BJP’s Hema Malini said the law prohibiting commercial surrogacy should be “inclusive and practical”.