UPSC Mains 2016: Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016

Ministry: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

Objectives: Regulation of surrogacy, prohibition of commercial surrogacy and ethical surrogacy for needy infertile for legally married Indian couples.

Key Provisions:

    • National Surrogacy Board at Centre and State level. These boards will ensure effective regulation of surrogacy.
    • Age of parents who opt for surrogacy has been defined. Male parent should be of age 26-55 years. Female parent should be of the age 23-50 years.
    • Category of people who cannot commission surrogacy includes- Overseas Indians, foreigners, unmarried couples, gay couples, single parents and live-in partners. This category also includes Indian couples with adopted or biological children.
    • Allows legally wed infertile Indian couples, who have been married for at least 5 years to opt for “altruistic surrogacy”. In this type of surrogacy, no money can be charged and is allowed with help of a blood relative. The relative should have borne a child of her own. She cannot be a foreigner or NRI and can be a surrogate mother only once in her lifetime.  

 

Issues not addressed:

    • Article 14 and Article 21 provided by Indian Constitution are available irrespective of nationality. The bill is in conflict with these constitutional provisions.
    • “Altruistic surrogacy”, where a relative is a surrogate mother may be pressurized into conceiving for another couple.
    • The National Guidelines which govern Artificial Reproductive Technology clinics in force since 2005 does not bar an unmarried woman from opting for artificial insemination with donor semen and a child born to a single woman through such a procedure is deemed to be legitimate.

Surrogacy industry in India

Surrogacy is a form of assisted reproduction with the help of a man’s healthy sperm and a women’s healthy eggs. There are two types of surrogacy-

    • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)– The child biologically belongs to the social parents (those who conceive on behalf of others).
    • Gestational Surrogacy– The child is genetically related to male parent and the surrogate mother.

According to estimates, the surrogacy industry in India is a Rs. 25,000 crore industry. Non-Resident Indian have contributed to the industry as the expense incurred in India is much cheaper than other countries. Surrogacy as an industry has grown in the last ten years. Surrogacy is favoured because of complicated adoption procedures in place in India. Surrogacy is also socially favourable to all stakeholders. A usual scenario would be- well-off people commissioning surrogacy to women who need financial help. As there is a risk of women opting for repeated surrogacy due to the money involved in the process, the rights and health of surrogate mothers is a concern.

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