The Union cabinet is likely to take up the draft surrogacy regulation bill, 2016, on Wednesday that not only aims to make parentage of children born out of surrogacy legal, but also imposes a 10-year jail and Rs 10 lakh fine if a commissioning parent abandons a child born out of the procedure.
Currently, there is no legislation for regulation of surrogacy in India, resulting in exploitation of poor women, who for monetary considerations agree to become surrogate mothers.
The draft bill bans commercial surrogacy and makes it mandatory for all surrogacy clinics to get themselves registered with the government. Failing to do so could result in a jail term of five years and a fine of Rs 10 lakh.
No woman will be allowed to become surrogate mother more than once in her lifetime, as per the bill.
Once approved, the law will make abandonment of surrogate child by a commissioning parent, exploitation of surrogate mother, selling of human embryo a punishable offence, with up to 10 years in jail and Rs 10 lakh fine.
“There have been a number of cases in the recent past where a commissioning parent abandoned the surrogate child because he or she had some deformity. Commissioning parents will be penalised now if they abandon a surrogate child,” a health ministry official said.
The government had recently admitted that the absence of a statutory mechanism to control commissioning of surrogacy was resulting in exploitation of women, mostly in rural and tribal areas.
According to the draft law, which has been cleared by a group of ministers, surrogacy will be allowed only if either or both members of a couple are suffering from proven infertility.
Besides, couples will have to be married for at least five years. If they have any children biologically or through adoption, they will not be allowed to hire a surrogate to bear their child.
Surrogacy will also be allowed only when the age of female commissioning parent is between 23 and 50 years and the male parent is between 26 and 55 years.
The law will allow altruistic surrogacy where no charges, expenses, fees or monetary incentive is given except the medical cost incurred on surrogate mother and the insurance coverage for the surrogate mother.