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Saturday, Dec 07, 2019

Govt refers surrogacy bill to select panel

india Updated: Nov 22, 2019 00:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

After two days of exhaustive debate on whether the the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019, should be passed in its current form, the government on Thursday referred it to a select committee of the Rajya Sabha.

Union health minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, moved a resolution referring to a select committee for further scrutiny of the bill that aims to ban commercial surrogacy.

Several Rajya Sabha members had on Wednesday sought amendments in certain provisions, including the removal of the term, “near relative”, with clear mention of who, within a family, can be a surrogate. They also wanted the removal of the period of a minimum of five years before couples could opt for surrogacy, as many may not want to wait that long to start a family.

The bill bans commercial surrogacy and allows altruistic surrogacy, where the surrogate mother is a close relative who has been married and has had a child of her own. The proposed bill bans monetary exchange except for necessary medical expenses.

The surrogacy industry in India is pegged between US$ 2-3 billion . The need for regulating the surrogacy business was felt to control unethical practices involved in surrogacy that had become rampant in India, especially exploitation of surrogate mothers.

“”It is a very complicated bill. It is not an easy bill to understand. The Standing Committee took over a year to deliberate over it ...We all agree that surrogacy should be regulated, but what should be the form of regulation is under debate. When I was in the Standing Committee, I was actually pleasantly surprised to see the demographic figures for infertility in the country,” said Jairam Ramesh, member Rajya Sabha, while debating on the bill on Wednesday.

Senior BJP leader, Suresh Prabhu, supported the bill but suggested certain modifications before passing it.

“…The ‘close relative’ has not been defined in the bill. What I am trying to impress upon is that if it is known within a few months of marriage, why should the couple wait for five years? Why cannot they have a child early?” he said.

“This is something which you should really think about, so that they can give more attention to the child and can look after the child better,” he added.

After several members had suggested amendments to the bill in its current form, Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday had agreed to take time to consider the suggestions. The bill was tabled in parliament on Tuesday, and had earlier been passed by the Lok Sabha in the monsoon session in August