Adoption may get a leg-up in India following the passage of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, banning commercial renting of wombs and allowing only “altruistic surrogacy”.
According to the Bill, all except legally married Indian couples who otherwise would not be able to conceive will be barred from opting for surrogacy. Besides, only a close relative can become a surrogate for “medically proven infertile” couples.
Experts claim that the stringent rules and regulations may encourage couples to turn toward adoption. “As surrogacy services were easily available, people used to hire a surrogate for having a baby, no matter if they were married, single or same sex couples,” said Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research.
The couple also has to be legally married for at least five years and possess a certificate from a doctor stating that they are
medically unfit to produce a child, according to the provisions of the Bill.
Singles, homosexuals and live-in couples cannot apply for surrogacy. Besides, couples who already have children will also not
be allowed to opt for surrogacy.
The Bill entitles only Indian citizens to avail of surrogacy, whereas foreigners, NRIs and PIOs are not allowed to commission
surrogacy in the country.
According to the provisions of the Bill, women within the age group of 23 years to 50 years and men aged between 26 and 55
years will be eligible to go in for surrogacy. The child, thus born, will be deemed to be the legal offspring of the intended
couple. Also, a woman can be a surrogate only once in her lifetime.
The Bill was approved by the Cabinet in August 2016. It was introduced in the Lok Sabha in November 2016 and was later
referred to a parliamentary standing committee on health and family welfare in January 2017.
Once enacted by Parliament, the national surrogacy board will be constituted at the central level, while the states and Union territories will constitute the state surrogacy boards and state appropriate authorities within three months of the notification by
the Union government.
With no law governing surrogacy, India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from different countries. There have been
incidents of unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers and abandonment of children born out of surrogacy. Apart
from protecting women from abuse, the bill also aims to protect rights of children born out of surrogacy