The government will have a law to regulate surrogacy including protecting rights of surrogate mothers and kids within a year, Women and Child Development minister Renuka Chowdhury said, after Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) made a presentation to her on the draft legislation.
“As of now it is free for all situation when it comes to surrogacy. There is no protection against exploitation of surrogate mothers or whether surrogacy is being treated as a business. The rights of children born from surrogacy are not clear. A large number of foreigners come to India to rent a womb and then disappear with the child. We don’t want India to become a cheap destination for surrogacy,” Chowhdury said.
She admitted that there is no data to gauge the magnitude of surrogacy business in India but suggested that middlemen were exploiting surrogate mothers because of their need for money.
Medical experts and NGOs also raised concern over the way business of surrogacy was being conducted in India at a roundtable on surrogacy on Tuesday. Issues like the minimum age limit and health conditions that need to be considered will come up for discussion. The WCD ministry also circulated a note on surrogacy highlighting the ethical, moral, legal and child issues related to surrogacy.
Giving a curtain raiser on the proposed law, the health ministry officials assured that the concern will be dealt in the proposed law, on which a curtain raiser was presented at the conference.
The ministry officials said the proposed law would protect rights of women giving birth to surrogate children so that they were not exploited by middlemen and vested interest. “Specific clauses regarding like the right of the child to know about the surrogate mother and rights of the surrogate mother over the kid has been included in the draft legislation, which would be circulated for public discussion soon,” a Health ministry official said.
As of now, there is no law on surrogacy in India. There are guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on surrogacy and Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART). “Now the need of the hour a law to regulate the emerging business aspect of surrogacy”, she said.
There was, however, clear consensus that age of surrogacy should remain between 22 and 45 years and a surrogate mother should not be allowed to give multiple births.