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Parliamentary panel suggests liberal reforms to India surrogacy bill

14 August 2017

By Julianna Photopoulos

Appeared in BioNews 913

A number of liberal reforms to the Surrogacy Regulation Bill 2016 have been proposed by India's parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare.

Aimed to ban commercial surrogacy in India, the bill currently prohibits cohabiting couples, same-sex couples, single parents, divorced and widowed women from seeking surrogacy services in the country (see BioNews 866). Instead, only infertile couples married for at least five years may seek a 'close relative' surrogate to offer their womb without compensation.

In a detailed 88-page report presented on 10 August 2017 to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India, the 31-strong panel called the proposed legislation 'too narrow' in its eligibility criteria because it ignored contemporary social structures and circumstances.

'If all these categories are to be banned then why have surrogacy at all?' asked the committee, which is headed by Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav.

The committee recommended allowing surrogates to be 'adequately and reasonably compensated' and not to be dismissed 'in a paternalistic manner'.

'Pregnancy is not a one-minute job but a labour of nine months with far-reaching implications regarding [the surrogate's] health, her time and her family. In the altruistic arrangement, the commissioning couple gets a child; and doctors, lawyers, and hospitals get paid. However, the surrogate mothers are expected to practice altruism without a single penny,' said the report.

Given the risk of exploitation of poor women, the report recommends that the compensation amount should be fixed by authorities to avoid any bargaining between surrogates and couples. Arrangements should also include insurance to provide for the surrogate's healthcare after the birth, and to compensate relatives should the surrogate die.

The committee also criticised the mandatory five-year waiting period for infertile couples. It has asked for this period to be reduced to one year instead.

The proposed bill sought to ban surrogacy for all foreigners in India (see BioNews 824). The panel agreed with this but found 'no point' in restricting non-resident Indians, people of Indian origin, and foreigners married to Indian citizens.

Times of India | 11 August 2017
The Telegraph India | 10 August 2017
HuffingtonPost India | 11 August 2017
DNA India | 11 August 2017


04 December 2017 - by Jennifer Willows 
A remedial order has been laid before Parliament which, if passed, will give single people the same rights as couples to become the legal parents of their surrogate-born children...
02 October 2017 - by Melissa Elsworth 
Why would a woman choose to carry a baby for another person? Should money be involved? Does surrogacy exploit vulnerable women? And what other ethical issues are involved in the surrogacy process?...
18 September 2017 - by Sarah Pritchard 
A married gay male couple in Utah is challenging the state's law that says couples need to prove that a woman is unable to have children before turning to surrogacy...
29 August 2017 - by Taqdeer Sidhu 
Commercial surrogacy will be permanently banned in Cambodia if a new law drafted by Women's Affairs Ministry is approved...

07 August 2017 - by Jennifer Willows 
An Australian nurse has been given a prison sentence after being found guilty of running an illegal surrogacy service in Cambodia...
24 October 2016 - by Lucas Taylor 
Two US couples have filed a petition at the High Court of Bombay to reclaim embryos they transferred into the country before India's ban on international surrogacy arrangements was introduced last year...
19 September 2016 - by Rikita Patel 
The Indian foreign minister has intervened on social media in the case of a British couple who face having to leave the country without their surrogate-born child...
30 August 2016 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
The Indian government is considering a bill to ban commercial surrogacy, which will only allow Indian couples married for at least five years to use surrogacy.
19 October 2015 - by Kirsty Oswald 
India looks poised to introduce surrogacy legislation following several developments that could lead to a blanket ban on commercial surrogacy...

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