Cabinet clears bill to ban commercialisation of surrogacy

The union cabinet on Wednesday approved the introduction of Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, a legislation that prohibits commercialisation of surrogacy and allows ethical surrogacy to needy infertile couples.

Briefing reporters, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said, ''Bill comes as India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples and incidents reported on unethical practices.''

''Altruistic surrogacy will only be allowed for Indian citizens, not NRIs or OCI card holders,'' she said, while adding that single parents, homosexual couples, live-in relationships couples will not be allowed altruistic surrogacy.

The bill seeks to regulate surrogacy in India by establishing National Surrogacy Board at the central level and State Surrogacy Boards and Appropriate Authorities in the state and union territories. The legislation will ensure effective regulation of surrogacy, prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile couples.

All infertile Indian married couple who want to avail ethical surrogacy will be benefited. Further, the rights of surrogate mother and children born out of surrogacy will be protected. The bill shall apply to whole of India, except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The major benefits of the Act would be that it will regulate the surrogacy services in the country. While commercial surrogacy will be prohibited including sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes [a mature male or female cell], ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile couples will be allowed on fulfilment of certain conditions and for specific purposes. As such, it will control the unethical practices in surrogacy, prevent commercialisation of surrogacy and will prohibit potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy.

No permanent structure is proposed to be created in the draft bill. Neither there are proposals for creating new posts. The proposed legislation, while covering an important area is framed in such a manner that it ensures effective regulation but does not add much vertically to the current regulatory structure already in place at the central as well as states. Accordingly, there will not be any financial implications except for the meetings of the National and State surrogacy Boards and Appropriate Authorities, which will be met out of the regular budget of Central and State governments.

India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from different countries and there have been reported incidents concerning unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and rackets of intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes.

Besides widespread condemnation of commercial surrogacy prevalent in India in the and electronic media since last few years, the 228th report of the Law Commission of India has also recommended prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing ethical altruistic surrogacy to the needy Indian citizens by enacting a suitable legislation.