SC Issues Notice On Plea Against Exclusion Of Unmarried Women From Surrogacy Act

Equality Of Marriage, Unmarried Women In Surrogacy Act
The Supreme Court sought the Centre’s response in a plea challenging the exclusion of unmarried women in a provision of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021.

The provision excludes unmarried women from its definition of “intending woman”. The term includes Indian women who are widows or divorcees between the age of 35 to 45 years and who intend to avail of surrogacy.

The Supreme Court bench of justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela M Trivedi issued notice is a plea by an unmarried woman in her late 30s.

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Exclusion Of Unmarried Women In Surrogacy Act

The woman argued in her plea that restraints on unmarried and single women to access the benefits of surrogacy violates Article 14 of the Constitution, the right to equality.

The petition reads, “Prohibiting unmarried or single women from accessing the benefit of surrogacy while allowing married women, widows and divorcees to access fall foul of Article 14.”

The plea also said that the provisions infringe on a woman’s right to exercise autonomy and control her reproductive decisions.

The petitioner, an unmarried woman had already initiated the search for a potential surrogate mother before the legislation came into place.

Appearing before the bench comprising Justice Rastogi and Justice Trivedi, the Counsel apprised that the petitioner already underwent surgery for the extraction of her eggs and while she was in search of a surrogate, the legislature came into force.

The plea submitted that the petitioner had undergone severe mental and physical stress associated with the medical procedure. The medical procedure cost the petitioner a lakh rupees for the extraction and a recurring payment of 40,000 rupees for freezing, every six months.

The plea also argued that there is no illegible differential or rational nexus for treating “unmarried” women as a separate category from other “intending women”. It emphasised that the marital status of a woman cannot be a marker for classification.

Recently, actor Priyanka Chopra opened up about her daughter Malti Marie Chopra Jonas’ pre-mature birth complications. Chopra and her husband Nick Jonas welcomed Malti, their first child through surrogacy. The couple’s decisions was met with controversy and criticism as some judged Chopra for having a baby via surrogacy.