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The Big Picture- Proposed Surrogacy Law: Does It Address All Concerns?

 

 


The Big Picture- Proposed Surrogacy Law: Does It Address All Concerns?

 


 

For some years now, surrogacy has become a widespread practice in India. In the last several years, with the spread of IVF technology for reproduction, surrogacy also has been noticed by the couples both native and foreign because of low cost. Some of the celebrities have also opted for this method to have a child. However, on the flip side, it has also led to some unethical practices which have led to exploitation of surrogate mother. While the demand for regulation has been long pending, the proposed Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 has provoked debate as well as criticism.

Provisions:

  1. It aims to regulate surrogacy by permitting it only for those Indian couples who cannot have children by natural methods or the technologies present in this field.
  2. The proposed Bill bats for altruistic surrogacy which is an arrangement without transfer of funds to the surrogate mother and is presently practiced in some centres of India.
  3. The child born through surrogacy will have the rights of a biological child.
  4. Couples married for 5 years between the age group 23-50 years for women and 26-55 years for men who do not have a surviving child are eligible for surrogacy.
  5. The surrogate mother should be a close relative of the intending couple in the age group of 25-35 years and shall act as surrogate only once in her lifetime.
  6. Implementation will be done through Central and State surrogacy boards.
  7. OCIs, NRIs, foreigners, unmarried couples, single parents, live-in partners and homosexual couples are barred from commissioning the services of surrogate mothers.

Pros:

  1. The proposed Bill will help in preventing exploitation of women especially those from rural and tribal belts.
  2. By bringing in altruistic surrogacy model and allowing a woman to be a surrogate only once in her lifetime, the government aims to ensure better health and life of the surrogate mother.
  3. It proposes that if any establishment undertakes commercial surrogacy, exploits the mother, abandons the child or tries to sell or import a human embryo, there would be punishment with imprisonment of not less than 10 years along with a fine up to Rs.10 lakhs.
  4. Adoption, an underutilized option for having a child can be taken into perspective where the orphan child and the couple’s happiness will be ensured at the same time.

Cons:

  1. The proposed provisions in the Bill might act as a ground that breeds underground surrogacy. It is not necessary that all the medical clinics will adhere to law. There will be corruption and unethical practices and exploitation of poor women.
  2. It has to be understood that a woman who enters into surrogacy is not out of will but because she is pushed towards it for a decent livelihood. Therefore, altruistic surrogacy will lead them to look for other means of living to sustain themselves.
  3. Given the nature of Indian society i.e. patriarchy, inheritance of property by the male child, a close relative might be forced by the family to become a surrogate mother for an infertile couple in the family without her will and there would be no place for her to complain.
  4. If a couple gets married at the age of 38 years, then it would be very difficult for them to have a child through surrogacy at the age of 43 years as there are other health issues attached with increasing age.
  5. The effectiveness of the proposed Bill will be questioned given the fact that there are laws in India which prohibit sex determination, female foeticide and organ donation with little achievement so far.

The Government has sent a clear message through this Bill that there are certain cultural values attached to India which it cannot overlook. Whether the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 is able to address the concerns of all stakeholders involved or not is a matter that remains debatable.