Surrogacy Bill is unfair to Single Parent and Homosexuals - Seeker's Thoughts

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Saturday, 22 December 2018

Surrogacy Bill is unfair to Single Parent and Homosexuals

Surrogacy banned in India 
On December 2018 the Lok Sabha has passed Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016 to protect surrogacy in the country. The bill allows only altruistic surrogacy  and  seeks  – payment to a surrogate mother is punishable by up to five years imprisonment, and has also safeguard build in against sex selection of the baby.

Altruistic surrogacy: - The surrogacy which include no financial benefits to the surrogate mother than medical expenses. It includes insurance coverage for the mother and protects the ethics of society.

Commercial surrogacy: - The surrogacy which includes sale or purchase of human embryo or gametes or surrogate mother. If the surrogate mother will be rewarded remunerations or financial benefits other than medical expenses.
Let’s understand why India needed such regulations for surrogacy
India has become the hub for surrogacy. In 2002, India had become the first country to legalized commercial surrogacy. By 2012 India has become the surrogacy capital of the world with surrogacy tourism valued at 400 mn$ annually according to a UN 2012 report.

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 Indian contract act.

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.
-          Problem also arises if twins/triplets are born in place of a single child over the issue if custody of child.
-         Single parent so they prefer surrogacy.
-         In past there has 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. It also provides the constitution of National surrogacy Board and State Surrogacy Board for 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. Couple who are seeking surrogacy should possess a certificate of essentially issues by 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 LGBT community, even if article 377 has been removed. Everyone has right to start the family, and there is no deny that government should ensure the safeguards of women from being exploitation. Banning for single parents also does 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 protection of health of 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 trying 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.