March 26, 2017 8:09:32 pm
The surrogacy bill introduced in Parliament making altruistic a third-party woman carrying the foetus of a married infertile couple is “riddled with loopholes”, says author Pinki Virani.
She, however, welcomes the government’s complete ban on commercial surrogacy.
She has sent stakeholder suggestions towards strengthening the surrogacy bill to the Rajya Sabha’s Standing Committee currently examining it, in which she points to “the trafficking of poor women for surrogacy continuing, they are being bussed across the border”.
Virani’s latest book “Politics Of The Womb: The Perils Of IVF, Surrogacy & Modified Babies”, released by Penguin Viking, exposes the physical and mental harm that aggressive IVF (in vitro fertilisation) can inflict upon a baby and its mother, whether she is the “direct patient” or the surrogate.
“Some artificial reproductive procedures can carry dangers of deadly diseases, deformities and disorders,” says the book while providing proof from international experts.
“India must be mindful that other countries, near or far, may be encouraging their medical economies through the bodies of women. They may not allow their fertility clinics to practise commercial surrogacy on their own women citizens but would turn a blind eye to women being trafficked inwards.
“A comprehensive surrogacy law must equally ensure that no womb, with the woman attached, is trafficked into our country for the exploitative purpose of commercial surrogacy. Every country, India included, needs to clamp down to prevent reproductive trafficking.
“Unfortunately, in its current exclusionary form, the surrogacy bill allows for human-trafficking,” the author claims.
Suggesting solutions, she says, “The intending parents will identify their own surrogate birth mother and the final approval will be by the Surrogacy Board.”
Under offences and penalties where the bill disallows persons and organisations to undertake commercial surrogacy or provide related facilities like arranging for surrogate mothers at “clinics, laboratories or at any other place”, Virani says.
She also suggests the adding of “inclusive of using Indian passport-holders as surrogate birth mothers internationally”.
She further asks for the bill to clarify that the surrogate “will be an Indian citizen residing in India”.
“Not only to prevent inwards trafficking,” she says.
“The altruistic surrogate is the intending child’s birth-mother even as its genetic-mother is the egg or oocyte-giver. It is a combination of genetic and giving birth which, in the general context of human reproduction, makes for biological mothers.
“It is this third-party reproduction child’s right to know all its parents, so that there is no biological bewilderment. It is also every newly-born’s right to be breastfed. If the altruistic surrogate as birth-mother extends her generosity and the genetic parents grasp the importance of breastfeeding for their baby, it’s the best start for a baby.”
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