Surrogacy in India

[op-ed snap] Great expectations: on Surrogacy Bill

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level : Nothing much

CONTEXT

Surrogacy needs to be regulated by law. 

Need for the law

  1. The issue of surrogacy is fraught with bioethical issues
  2. Regulations in the past in the area of child adoption and transplantation of human organs have borne fruit, putting an end to rampant commercial transactions 
  3. Flagrant violations of human rights have been witnessed repeatedly in the ‘baby-making factory’ in India – mostly with underprivileged women in the crosshairs and at the bottom of the pile. 
  4. Unregulated assisted reproductive techniques (ART) clinics mushroomed 
  5. India became a global health-care destination and there is a good volume of traffic toward the country along with growing domestic demand for surrogacy services

The bill should balance the purpose of regulating the complex area of surrogacy, while sensitively balancing the needs of ‘intending parents’ and surrogates.

Provisions of the bill

  1. The Bill mandates payment to the surrogate mother, who can only be a ‘close relative’, to the extent of covering medical expenses and providing insurance during the term of the pregnancy.
  2. It has specified that ‘exploiting the surrogate mother’ would attract punishment of imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine of up to ₹10 lakh
  3. Advertising for surrogacy and selling/importing human embryos or gametes for surrogacy also attract the same punishment.
  4. It has mandated registration of surrogacy clinics and put in place regulatory boards to ensure compliance with the law. 

Challenges

  1. Lack of specifics in definitions
    1. generalized ‘close relative’ criterion for surrogates
    2. the exclusion of various groups of people from access to surrogacy: only married couples of a certain age group are eligible
    3. seeking to regulate surrogacy before setting the ART house in order
  2. The capacity of the state to end commercial surrogacy may itself be compromised if it does not first set up a regulatory framework for ART clinics, which provide the basic technology for surrogacy
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