Rajya Sabha panel recommendations get Cabinet nod
The Union cabinet on Wednesday approved recommendations made by the Select Committee on Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020, to allow any “willing woman” to act as a surrogate instead of “near relative” as proposed earlier.
As per the revised bill, widows and divorcees will also be allowed to opt for surrogacy.
The proposed insurance cover for surrogate mothers has now been increased to 36 months from 16 months provided in the earlier draft.
The Cabinet informed that the government had accepted all recommendations made by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee, which studied an earlier version of the draft legislation that aims at banning commercial surrogacy and allowing only altruistic surrogacy in India.
The Union women and child development minister Smriti Irani, who chaired the Cabinet briefing, said the bill proposes that only Indian couples (both partners of Indian origins) can opt for surrogacy in the country.
The amended bill is a reformed version of the draft legislation which was passed by the Lok Sabha in August 2019, but its provisions, including that only a close relative of a couple can be a surrogate mother, had invited criticism.
The government sent the bill to a Rajya Sabha Select Committee, headed by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Bhupender Yadav, for holding wide consultations with various stakeholders and making recommendations.
The committee held nine sittings for a detailed examination of the draft bill that included discussions with various key stakeholders such as the department of health research, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, among others.
The amended bill is likely to be tabled in the second half of the Budget Session.
Health experts, however, criticized the absence of monetary compensation for the surrogate. “While it is a good step to omit near relative clause for a surrogate, it doesn’t help to not include monetary compensation for the surrogate because not many women would be interested in carrying someone’s child without being paid for it...,” Delhi-based IVF specialist, Dr Shivani Sachdev Gour, said.