The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved introduction of the “Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016”.
The Bill, if passed by the Parliament, will ban commercial surrogacy, which means, no Indian or foreigner, including single parents or gay couples,will be allowed to have children through surrogacy.
However, it will allow altruistic surrogacy where infertile couples may opt for surrogacy through a relative sans any exchange of money apart from medical and insurance expenses.
“The major benefits of the Act would be that it will regulate the surrogacy services in the country. While commercial surrogacy will be prohibited including sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes, ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile couples will be allowed on fulfillment of certain conditions and for specific purposes. As such, it will control the unethical practices in surrogacy, prevent commercialization of surrogacy and will prohibit potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy,” said the Cabinet in a statement.
The Bill will be applicable pan-India, excluding Jammu and Kashmir.
Known as a “surrogacy hub” with a net annual worth of over $1bn, India, over the past couple of years, has seen a sharp rise in incidents concerning unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and rackets of intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes.
As per medical portal WebMD, surrogacy in India comes for a cheaper, all-inclusive rate of $12,000, as compared to the same in the US that costs around $70,000.
Here is everything you need to know about the new surrogacy law of India:
1. The couple opting for surrogacy should be Indians and married for a minimum of five years.
2. Either or both should have proven infertility.
3. If none is infertile, then they should not have any surviving child born biologically or through previous surrogacy or via adoption.
4. The only other condition under which surrogacy will be allowed despite having another child is when the present one is mentally or physically challenged or is suffering from terminal illness.
5. Only a close relative of the couple can surrogate for them.
6. All procedures regarding the surrogacy should be done only at clinics registered under the Act.
7. Surrogacy clinics have to maintain records of at least the last 25 years.
8. A woman can become a surrogate mother only once in her lifetime.
9. The age limit of the intending couple has also been set. The woman has to be in the age group of 23 to 50 years, while the man needs to be in the bracket of 26 to 55 years on the day of certification.
10. Under any condition, the intending couple will not be able to abandon the child born out of surrogacy.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.