Bill on regulation of surrogacy tabled in Rajya Sabha
New Delhi The Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday tabled the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 in Rajya Sabha that bans commercial surrogacy in the country.
“This is an ethical legislation that the government is bringing,” Harsh Vardhan said.
The Bill leaves the option of only altruistic surrogacy open for couples wherein a close relative can be the surrogate, without any exchange of money except for necessary medical expenses.
A section of members found this clause to be highly contentious during the debate on the Bill with Rajya Sabha member Ram Gopal Yadav calling it unrealistic.
“The clause of proposing a close relative as surrogate is unrealistic. It is the most complicated option, and will not let the Bill pass,” he said. He also added that the surrogate mother should be provided some compensation. “Everyone else is making money, the couple is getting a child, but the surrogate is getting nothing out of it. That’s not right.”
According to the Bill only infertile Indian couples (between the age of 23-50 years and 26-55 years for female and male), respectively, who have been legally married for at least five years would be allowed to opt for surrogacy, but only through altruistic surrogacy.
Altruistic surrogacy means the surrogate mother has to be a close relative who has been married and has had a child of her own, and there is no monetary exchange except for necessary medical expenses.
The Bill is likely to be passed in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
The experts in the field say that altruistic surrogacy is not a feasible concept.
“Today I got so many calls from my panic-stricken patients to know if all hopes had finished for them. The Bill has come in its original form; all recommendations have been discarded. Nobody is going to abandon the thought of having a child; they will go to other countries,” said Dr Shivani Sachdev Gour, Delhi-based IVF expert.
“Altruistic surrogacy is a failed concept even in the west and may not take off in India. It’s not easy to find a surrogate in one’s family,” she adds.
The aim of the Bill that was brought after the Law Commission recommended prohibiting the practice of commercial surrogacy is to control unethical practices involved in surrogacy that had become rampant in India.
There is a provision for the Constitution of a National Surrogacy Board, State Surrogacy Boards and appointment of appropriate authorities for regulation of the practice and process of surrogacy.
The Lok Sabha had passed the Bill in August this year.