Question: Surrogacy in India is highly misused for commercialisation. Explain how this is addressed by the new Surrogacy Bill 2019.
Answer: Surrogacy is the method of childbirth through use of a carrier female, who is not the biological mother of the child. In recent years we have seen that surrogacy has been exploited by rich couples resulting in unprecedented cases of violence and disputes. To provide a legalised method for surrogacy, a new bill has been introduced and undergoing examination.
Issues in surrogacy
- Exploitation of carrier mother
The carrier female were exploited by rich paying couples for a token money. This pushed the life of the carrier mother into danger. In addition there are also cases of non payment of dues.
- Nationality and rights of child
There are also disputes regarding the nationality of children who are born in India but are deemed to be children of foreign couples. This has created confusion in many cases.
New protection measures
- Condition for carrier
The new bill says that the carrier mother must be a close relative of the couples and must have a child of her own. In addition the surrogacy must be free of cost without any remuneration. This completely removes commercial surrogacy.
- Eligibility of couples
Unlike earlier times when anybody could make use of surrogacy, the new provision has conditions for allowing surrogacy. This include the nationality, age of the couple, age of the surrogate mother, the time lapsed without conceiving (childless couples) etc. The surrogate mother is also barred from being a carrier more than once in her life.
- Expert opinion
There is a need for expert opinion who will provide certificate that couple is eligible for surrogacy due to problems such as sterility, genetic disorders or other medical issues.
There are various punishment prescribed in the bill to prevent misuse of the provisions of the law. This include imprisonment and monetary fines.
- Rights of surrogate mother
The surrogate is eligible to pull out of the arrangement anytime before the embryo has been transferred into her womb. This is in provision with the absolute right of surrogate to decline.
The bill is still undergoing scrutiny in Rajya sabha over certain issues which are expected to be resolved soon. This will ensure that surrogacy is used moreover as a goodwill gesture rather than a commercial tool.