Govt introduces bill to ban commercial surrogacy

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. File photo

The Government on Monday introduced a bill in Lok Sabha to ban “commercial surrogacy” and allow “ethical altruistic surrogacy” only to intending infertile married Indian couples between the age of 23-50 years and 26-55 years for women and men respectively under a regulatory framework.

“The intending couples should be legally married for at least five years and should be Indian citizens to undertake surrogacy or surrogacy procedures,” the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2019, introduced by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in the Lower House, stipulates.

In the statement of objects and reasons, the bill underlines that while India has emerged as "a surrogacy hub" for the couples from different countries for past few years, there have been reported incidents of unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and import of human embryos and gametes.

Due to the lack of legislation to regulate surrogacy, the practice of surrogacy has been “misused” by the surrogacy clinics, leading to rampant commercial surrogacy and unethical practices.

“In the light of above, it had become necessary to enact a legislation to regulate surrogacy services in the country, to prohibit the potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and to protect the rights of children born through surrogacy,” the statement of objects and reasons says.

The bill stipulates that no person, organisation, surrogacy clinic, laboratory or clinical establishment of any kind “shall” undertake commercial surrogacy, issue advertisements regarding commercial surrogacy, abandon the child born through surrogacy.

It prohibits exploitation of the surrogate mother, selling of human embryo or import of human embryo for the purpose of surrogacy.

“Contravention of the said provisions shall be an offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years and with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees,” the bill adds.

The bill stipulates that the surrogate mother should be “a close relative” of the intending couple and should be “an ever married” woman having a child of her own and between the age of 25-35 years.

The bill mandates an eligible woman to act as a surrogate mother only once. The bill provides for constitution of surrogacy boards, both at the national level and the state level.

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