Home >News >India >Not just kin, any willing woman can act as a surrogate, says RS panel

NEW DELHI : Not only “close relatives" but any willing woman should be allowed to act as a surrogate mother, a parliamentary panel said, adopting a practical view on the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019.

The Rajya Sabha select committee led by Bhupender Yadav, which reviewed the proposed legislation, said the restriction that a surrogate mother should be a close relative should be removed as it potentially restricts the availability of surrogate mothers and thus affects genuinely needy persons.

The panel also said a single woman, such as a widow, a divorcee, or a person of Indian origin (PIO) should be allowed to avail of surrogacy.

The panel backed the provision that only altruistic surrogacy (when a surrogate carries a child with no monetary compensation) should be allowed and not commercial surrogacy. “The sublime and divine instinct of motherhood could not be allowed to be turned into mechanical paid service of pro-creation devoid of divine warmth and affection," it said.

Fertility and experts and gynaecologists have said that the recommendations are practical and should be adopted while framing the laws. “The practice of surrogacy in the country definitely needs administration and direction for it to be undertaken with proper guidelines and to eliminate the exploitation that the surrogate mothers have to go through. The close relative clause of the Bill would only add to the miseries of a childless couple as no woman shall carry a baby for nine months without remuneration," it said.

“The omission of the five-year waiting period before seeking surrogacy is a good step. The problem of infertility also escalates with age and waiting for five years disrupts the biological cycle of both males and females. Fighting issues such as infertility and being a single parent are itself a challenge as there are a lot of stigmas attached to it in the society and such regulations victimize the intending parents," said Rita Bakshi, IVF expert and senior gynaecologist at Delhi-based International Fertility Centre.

“There may be certain proven medical conditions such as absence of uterus by birth, non-functional uterus, removal of uterus because of cancer, fibroids, or patients with chronic medical condition where normal pregnancy is ruled out and it is medically proven beyond any doubt that surrogacy is the only option," the committee said. The need to obtain certificates of proven infertility is not at all justified in such cases.

The panel also emphasized that Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill, which is awaiting cabinet approval, may be taken up before the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill as the ART Bill primarily deals with technical, scientific and medical aspects which also apply to storage of embryo, gamete, and oocyte as contained in the Surrogacy Bill.

The panel also said that the insurance cover for the surrogate mother should be raised from the 16 months proposed in the Bill to 36 months.

The Bill was referred to the select committee by the Rajya Sabha on 21 November 2019.

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