Cabinet Approves Surrogacy Bill With Amendments After Criticism
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020 has been sanctioned by the union cabinet on Wednesday, Reuters reported. The bill allows women “willing” to be surrogate to Indian married couples and single women. It also allows the person using a surrogate mother to only pay for her medical expenses to reduce commercialization of the act.
The previous bill allowing only Indian married infertile couples to seek surrogacy from a willing female relative was met with harsh criticism and couldn’t be passed in the upper house of the parliament. The government has now made it inclusive of single, widowed and divorced women who could also use a surrogate mother to carry their child. The bill is passed to ensure effective use of surrogacy and cracking down on the exploitation of poor and uneducated women at the hands of rich people.
Smriti Irani, Women and Child Development minister, said the new bill would ensure married Indian or Indian-origin couples and single, widowed and divorced women could still use a surrogate to carry their baby.
“If the woman is a widow or divorcee, she has the right to opt for surrogacy,” she said at a news conference.
Earlier in the first week of February, A parliamentary select committee led by BJP MP Bhupendra Yadav proposed these changes be made in the earlier controversial bill. It called for allowing a “willing woman” and not just a “close relative” to become a surrogate mother. It also proposed to allow any single woman to be eligible for surrogacy. The 23-member committee suggested 15 major changes to the bill including deleting the definition of “infertility” as the inability to conceive after five years of unprotected intercourse on the ground that it was too long a period for a couple to wait for a child.
“The Bill is aimed at banning commercial surrogacy and allowing altruistic surrogacy”, said Javadekar who was also present at the press conference, The Hindu reported.
India is one of the few countries that allowed commercial surrogacy for a long period of time apart from Russia, Ukraine and some states in the US.
The bill allows women “willing” to be surrogate to Indian married couples and single women. It also allows the person using a surrogate mother to only pay for her medical expenses to reduce commercialization of the act.
In December 2018, the then health minister JP Nadda introduced the bill for the first time banning commercial surrogacy. The bill sought to ban commercial surrogacy entirely by only allowing close relatives of married infertile couples to act as surrogates for ‘altruistic’ reasons. Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar of the Trinamool Congress and NCP’s Supriya Sule were the first people who criticised the bill for its short-sightedness. They called for broadening the categories of people who could benefit from surrogacy.
At that time, Sule had lamented that it is not modern enough. Dastidar, on the other hand, said that the bill should also include homosexual couples and allow them to avail surrogacy. Sule protested against “fashion surrogacy” which she said means that a few celebrities want children through surrogacy because they don’t want to destroy their figures. Earlier this month, actress Shilpa Shetty became a mother once again to a baby girl through surrogacy.
Picture Credit- The New Indian Express