Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan (Photo: PTI)
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan (Photo: PTI)

Discussion on Surrogacy Bill inconclusive in RS, to be taken up on Wednesday

  • Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan moved the Bill in the House, saying the Bill aims to ban commercial surrogacy and allow altruistic surrogacy for Indian citizens
  • He said in most countries, commercial surrogacy is not prohibited, but many countries have criminalised it

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha will discuss the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2019 on Wednesday that aims to ban commercial surrogacy and allow altruistic surrogacy only for Indian citizens. The Bill was though discussed in the house on Tuesday but even after a long discussion, it remained inconclusive.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan moved the Bill in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday stating, “Since absence of a regulation in the country, India has become surrogacy hub where around 3,000 clinics are running illegally and 2,000 foreign babies took birth through surrogacy illegally and unethically.

“In most countries, commercial surrogacy is not prohibited, but many countries have criminalised it. The European Union has even condemned the practices of surrogacy. On altruistic surrogacy, he said it should not mean monetary business in India," said Harsh Vardhan.

The Bill seeks to constitute a National Surrogacy Board, state surrogacy boards and appointment of appropriate authorities for regulation of the practice and process of surrogacy. The draft law also has a provision for a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine of 10 lakh for violations such as abandoning a child and choosing commercial surrogacy.

Several members of the house have recommended that the Bill should be sent to a select committee for reconsideration of various clauses that they alleged were impractical to implement.

BJP leader Suresh Parbhu however supported the proposed legislation, but he also said that there are some provisions such as single time surrogacy for couples and citizenship issues can be reviewed so that genuine couples are not adversely affected. He said that despite increasing population in India, several women aspiring to become mothers cannot become mothers due to medical issues and surrogacy can help them.

During the discussion, Congress leader M.V. Rajeev Gowda said, if the Bill is passed, "we will be going back to the Victorian era".

"A woman''s job is not inherently to give birth, so the costs that women bear should be suitably addressed. Reproductive labour of the woman should be acknowledged and the woman should be compensated," he said.

"The current form of the Bill adds red-tapeism with complicated rules and regulations, he said.

Ram Gopal Jadhav (SP) and BJD leader Amar Patnaik said there are many lapses in the Bill that need to be reviewed.

Similarly, JD (U) Kahkashan Perween and CPI (M) leader K Somprasad opposed the waiting time of five years of marriage before availing of surrogacy.

“Why should the couple wait for five years? Fertility of the couple can be ascertained much earlier, especially with all the scientific developments," Somprasad argued.

According to the government, the Bill comes against the backdrop of reports of unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and rackets around intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes were reported.

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