In some last few months, Surrogacy Bill had been the talk of the town because of the introduction of multiple argumentative clauses in it. It was highly suggested by several people, experts and doctors that the rights of many innocent lives were being curbed and suggested that the bill required several modifications. There is no doubt about the fact that having a child is a right & need of all and surrogacy helps in transcending and completing several families.
Select Committee of Parliament has suggested that the argumentative clause limiting surrogacy only to “close relatives” be detached from the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019.
According to IVF Expert and Senior Gynaecologist, International Fertility Centre, Dr. Rita Bakshi says, “I’m extremely in support for of the alterations that have been proposed recently as otherwise these clauses would have had only added to the desolations of the intending parents. These changes were much needed as they cater to the needs and aspirations of the intending single parents to complete their families. Asking for a ‘close relative’ to be a surrogate without any remuneration is too much for ask for. In a country like India, nobody will agree to do that!”
What changes have been made in the Eligibility Criteria?
The other chief changes endorsed by the Committee include consenting single woman i.e. a widow or a divorcee and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) to be allowed to avail surrogacy, eliminating the requirement of five years as the period of incapability to conceive before choosing for surrogacy and increasing the insurance cover for the surrogate mother from 16 months proposed in the Bill to 36 months.
Regarding the eligibility criteria for availing surrogacy procedure, the Committee recommended deletion of the definition of ‘Infertility’ as the inability to conceive after five years of unprotected sexual intercourse as provided for in the Bill on the ground that it was too long a period for a couple to wait for child. The Committee noted that there may be certain proven medical conditions like absence of uterus by birth, non-functional uterus, removal of uterus due to cancer, fibroids etc. or patients with chronic medical condition where normal pregnancy is ruled out and it is medically proven beyond any doubt that surrogacy is the only option. The Committee also further noted that the requirement of obtaining certificate of proven infertility is not at all justified in such cases. With the proposed deletion of the definition of ‘Infertility’, needy persons can seek to avail surrogacy any time on the basis of a certificate of medical indication requiring gestational surrogacy
What are the Changes that have been brought in from Commercial Surrogacy to being Altruistic Surrogacy?
The Committee also recommended a modification in the definition of altruistic surrogacy so as to cover ‘such other prescribed expenses’ on nutritional food required, maternity-wear etc. vital for the wellbeing and upkeep of the surrogate mother. In order to protect the interest of the child born through surrogacy, the Committee recommended that the order regarding parentage and custody of child to be issued by a Magistrate shall be the birth affidavit of surrogate child.
Why Introduction of the ART Bill before Surrogacy Bill
As a general recommendation, the Select Committee recommended that the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill which is awaiting cabinet approval may be taken up before the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill since the ART Bill primarily deals with technical, scientific and medical aspects which also apply to storage of embryo, gamete, oocyte etc. as contained in the Surrogacy Bill.
Surrogacy is a part of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and hence the Surrogacy Bill should come into force only after the enactment of ART Bill.
BY: Dr. Rita Bakshi, Senior Gynaecologist, International Fertility Centre.