Thursday, 18 July, 2019

Bill to regulate surrogacy tabled in LS


  • The union government has introduced the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 to regulate surrogacy in India.

Key terms related to Surrogacy:

  • Surrogacy is a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an eligible couple and agrees to hand over the child after the birth to them.
  • Altruistic surrogacy involves a surrogacy arrangement where the monetary reward only involves medical expenses and insurance coverage for the surrogate mother.
  • Commercial surrogacy includes a monetary benefit or reward (in cash or kind) that exceeds basic medical expenses and insurance for the surrogate mother.

Background:

  • With no law governing surrogacy, India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from different countries. Lack of regulation has resulted in issues related to exploitation of surrogate mothers and abandonment of children born out of surrogacy
  • In order to provide for a mechanism toregulate surrogacu in India, the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2019 was passed by the 16th Lok Sabha. However, the Bill could not be taken up for consideration and passing in the Rajya Sabha.
  • With the Bill lapsing after the dissolution of 16th Lok Sabha, the government has now again introduced the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 in the Lok Sabha.

Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill

Objectives

  • To regulate surrogacy services in the country
  • To provide altruistic ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile Indian couples 
  • To prohibit commercial surrogacy including sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes.
  • To prevent commercialization of surrogacy and consequent exploitation of surrogate mothers in India.
  • To protect rights of children born out of surrogacy

Main Provisions

  • It puts a blanket ban on commercial surrogacy with penal provisions of jail term of up to 10 years and fine of up to Rs 10 lakh.
  • Only Altruistic surrogacy will be permitted. The surrogate mother will not be paid any compensation except medical expenses and insurance. The bill covers 18-month care expenses and insurance cover for the surrogate mother.
  • The bill permits only ‘close relatives’ to be surrogate mothers.
  • A woman can be a surrogate only once in her lifetime.
  • Registration of surrogacy clinics: Surrogacy clinics cannot undertake surrogacy related procedures unless they are registered by the appropriate authority.

Who can avail it?

  • Altruistic surrogacy can be availed only by a defined mother and family.
  • It won’t be permitted for live-in partners, single parents or Homosexuals. 
  • Couples who already have children will not be allowed to opt for surrogacy.
  • An Indian infertile couple, married for five years or more, can go in for altruistic surrogacy. The couple shall possess a certificate from doctor stating that they are medically unfit to produce a child.
  • Only Indian citizens are entitled to avail surrogacy. Foreigners, NRIs and PIOs are not allowed to commission surrogacy in the country.

Regulatory Agencies:

  • National and State Surrogacy Boards:
    • The central and the state governments shall constitute the National Surrogacy Board (NSB) and the State Surrogacy Boards (SSB), respectively.  
    • Functions of the NSB include, (i) advising the central government on policy matters relating to surrogacy; (ii) laying down the code of conduct of surrogacy clinics; and (iii) supervising the functioning of SSBs.
  • Appropriate authority: The central and state governments shall appoint one or more appropriate authorities within 90 days of the Bill becoming an Act. The functions of the appropriate authority include;
    • granting, suspending or cancelling registration of surrogacy clinics
    • enforcing standards for surrogacy clinics
    • investigating and taking action against breach of the provisions of the Bill
    • recommending modifications to the rules and regulations

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