Surrogacy rules can’t be on par with adoption, explains panel chief Bhupendra Yadav
Surrogacy laws cannot be on par with the rules governing adoption in the country, the head of the parliamentary panel set up to examine the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill said on Wednesday.
The panel, which tabled its report in Parliament’s upper House or Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, recommended that widows and divorced women should be allowed to have children through surrogacy but single men and same-sex couples should be kept out the bill’s purview.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Bhupender Yadav, who heads the panel, said the panel excluded single women from the list of people who they have said should be allowed to have children through surrogacy after “detailed discussion”.
“The committee felt that raising a child requires both adhikar and kartavya [rights and duties]. Where there is an option of marriages available, then surrogacy should not be allowed. It [surrogacy] is for those married couples who want to have children but owing to various reasons cannot,” Yadav said.
He said it is for this reason that they have recommended that single men and same-sex partners should be kept out of the proposed law’s ambit. “Surrogacy rules cannot be on par with rules of adoption. Even in the case of adoption, a single man is not allowed to adopt a girl child. There is a restriction in adoption rules as well.”
Same-sex couples have called the provision discriminatory.
The committee has recommended that a child born through surrogacy should have all the legal rights of a biological heir and that people of Indian origin, who opt for it in India will need to follow the laws of their respective countries.
The committee has recommended removal of the provision that mandated surrogates to be close relatives and has backed the Union health ministry’s suggestion seeking a ban on commercial surrogacy.
Yadav said the panel concluded following extensive feedback exercise that while any “willing woman” can be allowed to have a child through surrogacy and instead of limiting it to close relatives, there was agreement that it cannot be done on a commercial scale.
“The committee has recommended that expenses on account of diet, health care, and health insurance should be taken care of by the family seeking a child through surrogacy, but appropriate authority should be in place to ensure there is no exploitation,” he said.
The committee has recommended that going forward the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Board and the Surrogacy Monitoring Board should be the same. The Centre should appoint appropriate authorities at district levels to check exploitation of the surrogates and ensure it is not commercialised, it has said.
“We have made it clear in the recommendations that there cannot be any exchange of money to a surrogate, but exploitation of surrogates must be checked,” Yadav said.
The Select Committee has recommended that the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill, which is awaiting the Cabinet’s approval, may be taken up before the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill. It has said it should be done since the ART Bill primarily deals with technical, scientific and medical aspects of surrogacy.