Bill seeking ban on commercial surrogacy cleared

Bill seeking ban on commercial surrogacy cleared

Bill seeking ban on commercial surrogacy cleared

The Union cabinet on Wednesday cleared the draft Surrogacy Bill, 2016 which puts a complete ban on commercial surrogacy and allows only altruistic surrogacy by legally married Indian citizens who are wedded for five years.

According to the Bill, only a close relative who is married and has borne at least one healthy child can act as surrogate mother, provided that she does it only once in her life-time.

The surrogate child will have all the rights of a biological child, including over property, said Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj while briefing the media. 

The Bill prohibits unmarried couples, single parents, homosexuals or live-in partners from opting for surrogacy.

Foreign citizens, including NRIs and PIOs holding Overseas Citizens of India card, have been barred from opting surrogacy.

Swaraj said any commercial transaction in surrogacy is banned in this Bill, and rights of surrogate mother and child have been completely protected. “The Bill provides for punishment of 10 years of imprisonment if the surrogate mother is neglected or the child born through surrogacy is abandoned or for any other violation,” she said. Even the clinic helping in such acts will have to face this punishment.

“There are instances of abandoning the child if it is disabled, unhealthy or a girl child,” she said.

The Bill put age restrictions on the couples who opt for surrogacy. Accordingly, the father’s age should be 26 to 55 years and mother’s 23 to 50. The couple should have no child and one of the parents should have medically proven deficiency for bearing a child.

No couple with biological or adopted child would be eligible for seeking surrogacy. 
Attacking some Bollywood stars, the External Affairs Minister said surrogacy has become a hobby and fashion for those who do not want to undergo the pain of bearing a child. She said that there were incidents where girl children or disabled children born out of surrogacy were abandoned.

“There are examples of celebrities who have two children or have adopted child and then go for surrogacy as they do not want to bear the pain of bearing another child,” she said. The new Bill, which will be introduced in the next session of Parliament, will be subject to scrutiny by a standing committee, said the minister.

Swaraj was the head of the Group of Ministers which finalised the draft Bill. The GoM had health minister J P Nadda, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal as its members.

The Bill also provides for National Surrogacy Board headed by the Union Health Minister. The state level Surrogacy Board will be headed by a Director General level officer. 

The Bill provides for compulsory registration of surrogacy clinics and makes it mandatory for them to maintain the record of a surrogacy for at least 25 years.

“India has 2,000 surrogacy clinics and there was a need for regulating them,” said the minister.   She said that the Bill is in consonance with the ethos of the country and single parents, homosexuals or live-in partners have the option of adopting a child.

WHAT THE BILL SAYS

Union Cabinet has approved a draft bill to regulate and formulate a mechanism to commission surrogacy in India. The aim of the new legislation, which will now have to be passed by Parliament, is to:

Safeguard the rights of surrogate mothers
Make parentage of surrogate children legal and transparent
Evolve a statutory
system for commissioning of surrogacyn Prohibit foreigners from     commissioning surrogacy in India

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