• Cabinet clears Surrogacy Bill, bans commercial surrogacy

    August 25, 2016

    The Union Cabinet, on Wednesday, cleared the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, banning commercial surrogacy in India.

    The Bill Prohibits foreigners, homosexual couples, people in live-in relationships and single individuals. Allowing only childless, straight Indian couple married for a minimum of five years eligible for surrogacy.

    The Bill allows eligible couples to turn to close relatives, not necessarily related by blood for philanthropic surrogacy — where no money exchanges hands between the commissioning couple and the surrogate mother.

    Further, the new Bill mandates that women acting as surrogates can do so only once. And all Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) clinics will be registered.

    Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj defended making homosexuals ineligible for surrogacy.

    “Each country has to make laws that are aligned with our values, as per a legal framework. Homosexual couples are not recognised by law in India.”

    The Bill also prohibits couples who already have biological or adopted children from commissioning babies through surrogacy.

    Taking a jibe at celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan, who had children by way of surrogacy, Ms Swaraj said that, “rich people outsource pregnancies to poorer women because their wives cannot go through labour pain. We have put a complete stop to celebrities who are commissioning surrogate children like a hobby, despite having biological ones.”

    The surrogacy debate started in India in 2008, when two-week-old Baby Manji Yamada was left stateless after the commissioning parents in Japan divorced during the pregnancy and the commissioning mother refused to accept the baby.

    The court granted custody to the baby’s grandmother after a long legal battle.

    This case led the Gujarat HC to state that there is “extreme urgency to push through legislation” which addresses such issues. Subsequently, the 228th report of the Law Commission of India recommended prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing ethical altruistic surrogacy to the needy Indian citizens by enacting a suitable legislation.

    In 2002, India became the first country to legalise commercial surrogacy. By 2012, India had become the ‘surrogacy capital’ of the world with surrogacy tourism valued at approximately $500 million annually by a paper written by advocate Amil Malhotra titled, ‘All aboard for the fertility express.’



    Technology has turned every aspect of our lives into a money making pursuit. Who thought that one we will be able to rent out the wombs for our babies. Commercial surrogacy is often the solid ground of exploitation of poor, needy women. Often exploiting the dignity of reproductive labour, and the psychological well-being of the parties involved.

    However altruistic surrogacy might put voiceless, oppressed women in a highly susceptible position. It does not guarantee financial incentives above the required basic expenses of bearing a child and the possibility of developing a bond with the baby could be higher in altruistic surrogacy. Government should pay heed to such issues.

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