India is unfair to Single Parent and Homosexuals in surrogacy bill. - Seeker's Thoughts

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India is unfair to Single Parent and Homosexuals in surrogacy bill.

The procedure of surrogacy became a successful practice in India with the birth of the world’s second and India’s first baby by surrogacy – Kanupriya alias Durga who was born in Kolkata on Oct 2, 1978. Since then the field of assisted reproductive technology.
In our society infertility has historically seen as a problem. The society expects a woman to have a child or children when they reach a certain age. In most cases, the women have been asked that when she is planning to have a baby. Married women face this kind of mental abuse by their in-laws right after their marriage, therefor the birth of a child is crucial in India to have. 

Surrogacy, where the womb is used on rent is often practiced in India, and regretfully, the surrogacy bill did not serve justice with single parents and homosexuals. 

As socially,
being barren makes women lose their stand in society because they are not viewed as an incomplete person. There are harsh words that are often being said to degrade barren women. Surrogacy bill also somewhere remain 'only women-centric' and failed to include the diversity and minority. 

In some cases, women have lost their marriages because they cannot have children. Some men go to have children out to wedlock with other women.

In a modern world to get a child without giving up a marriage, surrogacy concept had started long back. The root of India surrogacy has its traces in the history and provided evidences of begin a century-old procedure. 

The procedure of surrogacy became a successful practice in India with the birth of the world’s second and India’s first baby by surrogacy – Kanupriya alias Durga who was born in Kolkata on Oct 2, 1978. Since then the field of assisted reproductive technology.
In India, surrogacy has always remained a debated topic as it has always been discussed upon legal, social and ethical aspects. There have been cases that have resulted in both the favour and sometimes against the practice of the procedure when the attempt did not result in success.
In the past some decades there has been enormous growth in reproductive techniques in India that includes innovative donor insemination techniques, in vitro fertilization techniques, embryo techniques and much more that has given hopes to childless couples. 

At one hand where intended parents are much happy to have such a technique available for them, there are some communities, on the other hand, who are not in the favour of practicing surrogacy in India.

Eventually, India has become the hub for surrogacy. In 2002, India had become the first country to legalized commercial surrogacy after so many efforts. By 2012 India has become the surrogacy capital of the world with surrogacy tourism valued at 400 million $ annually according to a UN 2012 report.
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There are various reasons for it:-

-         Due to financial reasons, people are willing to surrogates.

-         India also offers low cost advanced medical facilities which attract a lot of medical tourism in general and surrogacy in particular.

-         There is no particular law that deals with various aspects of surrogacy. At present, it is governed by the Indian contract act.

New regulations by the Indian government

The Indian government has banned commercial surrogacy. According to the new regulations, it prohibit commercial surrogacy, and allow ethical surrogacy. And it also prohibit exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy.

It proposes to regulate surrogacy in the country by establishing the National Surrogacy Board (NSB) at the central level and state surrogacy boards and appropriate authorities in the state and Union Territories. Functions of the NSB include, (I) advice central government on policy matters related to surrogacy; (ii) lay down code of conduct of surrogacy clinics and (iii) supervise functioning of SSBs.

Child born out of surrogacy procedure will be deemed to be the biological child of the intended couple.  

In the case of abortion of the surrogate child, there is a mandatory requirement of written consent of surrogate mother and authorisation of the appropriate authority compliant with Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. It gives the surrogate mother the option to withdraw from surrogacy before the embryo is implanted in her womb.

It has been prescribed for undertaking or advertising commercial surrogacy, exploiting the surrogate mother, abandoning, exploiting or disowning a surrogate child and selling or importing human embryo or gametes for surrogacy. 

Penalty for such offences is imprisonment up to 10 years and fine up to Rest. 10 lakh rupees. It also specifies the range of offences and penalties for other contraventions of the provisions of the Bill.
It allows surrogacy for only Indian citizens and bans foreigners, NRI, and PIOs from opting for surrogacy in India. 

It also bans single parents and homosexuals and also a couple who already have children from surrogacy. 

Surrogacy for infertile married Indian couples only (married for at least 5 years). 

In this case, the male must be between 26-55 years and female must be between 23-50 years and they should not have any surviving child (biological, adopted or surrogate).
It permits surrogacy for intending couples who are suffering from proven infertility. It does not permit for commercial purposes, altruistic purpose, not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation etc.

Altruistic surrogacy: It is allowed and has been defined as surrogacy wherein only medical expenses and insurance coverage is provided by the couple to surrogate mother during pregnancy and no other monetary consideration.
Problems related to surrogacy
There have been several reports about the exploitation of surrogate mothers, women who are kept confined in “hostels” during pregnancy and not allowed to meet their families.
-          Women who do not it repeatedly for small amount thus putting their own bodies at risk.
-          The problem also arises if twins/triplets are born in a place of a single child over the issue if custody of the child.
-         Single parent so they prefer surrogacy.
-         In the past, there have been death cases associated with surrogacy.
-         Mostly Indians prefer surrogacy rather than go child adoption option.

What are the provisions of surrogacy regulation bill 2016?

The bill is applicable to all states of India except Jammu and Kashmir, and as article 370 has been removed, perhaps the bill may be applicable to the new Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir as well. It also provides the constitution of National surrogacy Board and State Surrogacy Board for the regulation of surrogacy process. The bill providing surrogacy to only India citizens.

The Criticism
Homosexuals and single parents are also not allowed for surrogacy and bars the couple who already have children. The couple who are seeking surrogacy should possess a certificate essentially issues by an appropriate authority.

The bill provides that women can only surrogate once in her lifetime and she should be in between 25 to 35 years. 

The couple who intend for surrogacy should be aged between 23 to 50 years and married for at least 5 years. 

This is unfair with the LGBT community, even if article 377 has been removed. Everyone has the right to start the family, and there is no denying that the government should ensure the safeguards of women from being exploited. Banning for single parents also do not go with very progressive thought. 
228th report of the Law commission
The 228th report of the law commission had recommended of commercial surrogacy. Commercial surrogacy is allowed only in Russia, Ukraine, and California.

Standing committee’s Report in favor of surrogacy
The standing committees report accepts that surrogate mother “engaged themselves in surrogacy out of economic necessity and saw surrogacy as a means if economically uplifting their families."
The report also brought out some other important observations, reflected by feminist organizations working in the field. The report makes a compelling argument against the use of term “Altruistic surrogacy” and the practice of altruistic pregnancy involving no compensation. In the altruistic arrangement, the couple gets child and doctors lawyers and hospitals get paid. But the surrogate mothers are expected to practice altruism without a single penny.
Expecting women that too, a close relative to be altruistic enough to become a surrogate and endure all the hardship of the surrogacy procedure in the pregnancy period this is also kind of exploitation.

A way forward
Many countries including the UK that have experienced with altruistic surrogacy have realized that this only tends to push the whole transaction underground.

 Women who bears a child for another one is actually performing a service and needs to be compensated for it. If altruistic surrogacy is enforced, the commission parents have to find some non-legal means to pay the one who has spent years or more of her life trying to ensure the birth of a healthy baby or babies.

The bill leaves several questions unanswered such as ensuring the protection of the health of the surrogate mother, maternity relief available to her etc.

There is definitely a need for regulation. But the large-scale banning proposed in this bill is asking to try to cap a volcano. There is no stopping technological advancement and no government can wish away the fact that it has been possible for decades now to create babies outside the womb to successfully implant them in the womb of a woman who has no genetic link to the embryo.

 While there is a need for regulation, we cannot wish away the advances in medicinal science and the subsequent impact on surrogacy. We need to have a legislation which, while dealing with the problems associated with surrogacy does not interfere with the reproductive rights of woman and freedom of choice available to an individual.

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