Parliamentary panel backs Surrogacy Bill, recommends more liberal norms

Alain Brian
Août 11, 2017

A 31-member Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare that includes 12 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members and is headed by Samajwadi Party (SP) leader and Rajya Sabha member Ram Gopal Yadav recently backed the Surrogacy Bill. The committee, which has raised several issues with the bill, has "strongly" recommended that the Assisted Reproduction Technologies (ART) Bill be brought forth before it. Since surrogacy procedures require assisted reproduction techniques, it was important to first specify the legal framework for those before regulating surrogacy. This bill also included provisions on regulation of surrogacy facilities, it stated in its report.

While recommending that foreign nationals be kept out of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, it advocated an appropriate mechanism for a complete background check of NRIs, PIOs and OCIs intending to use the services of surrogates for bearing a child on their behalf.

The committee, led by Samajwadi Party MP Ram Gopal Yadav, has nearly overturned the bill entirely with its observations and recommendations on conditions like the ban on commercial surrogacy and limits on those eligible for surrogates.

Many stakeholders involved in the finalisation of the draft Surrogacy Bill 2016 feel that surrogacy should be restricted to altruistic reasons.

It also suggested that instead of limiting the scope of who can act as a surrogate to close relatives of the couples to prevent unethical practices and the surrogate's exploitation, they should be provided insurance cover that takes care of the surrogate's health in the aftermath of the pregnancy too.

While organ donation, especially in the case of living donors, is mandated to be altruistic, the committee felt that altruistic surrogacy was "extreme and entails high expectation from a woman willing to become a surrogate without any compensation or reward". However, who qualifies as a close relative was not defined.

"Based on the analysis of the facts...the committee is convinced that the altruistic surrogacy model as proposed in the Bill is based more on moralistic assumptions than on any scientific criteria and all kinds of value judgments have been injected into it in a paternalistic manner". This was indicative of the fact that the bill was not in consonance with the present day modern social milieu and was "too narrow" in its understanding.

"If all these categories are to be banned then why have surrogacy at all?" the committee asked, according to the TOI report.

The committee also criticized the mandatory five-year waiting period for infertile couples before they could opt for surrogacy as unreasonable, reported DNA.

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