Norms must for commercial surrogacy industry

Norms must for commercial surrogacy industry

Norms must for commercial surrogacy industry

More than 2,000 unregistered surrogacy clinics are operating across the country, which the government  intends to bridle by introducing the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 in Parliament.

The Union Cabinet's decision to bring a law to check commercial surrogacy follows reports that India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from different countries.

According to one estimate, at least 40,000 surrogate babies were born in the past decade.  There have been reports of unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes.

An Australian couple had abandoned one of their twins in Thailand in 2014 because he had Down’s syndrome, which led the country to ban commercial surrogacy in February 2015.

In 2014, another couple from Australia returned to their country with just one of twin babies because they wanted a girl. They left their son behind in Delhi.

Now, under the proposed Bill, couples abandoning a baby could be punished with 10-year imprisonment and Rs 10 lakh fine, or both.

Officials said widespread condemnation of commercial surrogacy prevalent in India, with the print and electronic media also regularly reporting the malpractice, highlighted the need to prohibit commercial surrogacy.

The 228th report of the Law Commission of India had also recommended prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing ethical "altruistic surrogacy" for the benefit of needy Indian citizens by enacting a suitable legislation.

At present, India has no law regulating surrogacy. The Bill that got the Union Cabinet’s nod on Wednesday had taken many forms. The government finally separated surrogacy from the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill in 2016.

Commercial surrogacy is banned in most developed countries, including Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Sweden, New Zealand and Japan. Many couples, especially foreigners, desperate for a biological child, have been flocking to countries like India and Thailand, taking advantage of the absence of clear laws governing the procedure.

  Once India enacts a law, business may shift to other countries like Ukraine and Georgia where commercial surrogacy is legal, some fertility experts said. 

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