Govt bid to regulate thousand crore surrogate motherhood

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Surrogate Motherhood
New Delhi, Jan 19: In a bid to regulate nearly Rs 1000 crore industry that produces an estimated 30,000 babies a year, the government has banned foreign gay and lesbian couples from renting a womb in the country.

The new rules notified by the Union Home Ministry recently also says that couples from European countries will not be able to have kids through surrogacy in India unless their country of origin recognises surrogacy.

Most European countries do not allow commercial surrogacy.

Providing protection to children born through surrogacy, the new government rules mandate that the couple commissioning surrogacy will not have to ensure citizenship to the child. This has been necessitated as many children born out of surrogacy have not been granted citizenship in the country from which the foreign couple hails from.

Such couples wanting surrogacy in India will henceforth be allowed entry into India only through a 'Medical Visa' and not a 'Tourist Visa' as done now. They should also produce an agreement between the applicant couple and prospective Indian surrogate mother, the new rules stipulate.

The government has also fixed that Indian women involved in surrogacy should be between the age of 21 and 35 years. According to new rules, it will also be mandatory on the part of the couple to submit a letter from the Embassy in India or the Foreign Ministry of the country where they are citizens, stating clearly that they recognise surrogacy.

The letter should also confirm that the child/children to be born to the commissioning couple through the Indian surrogate mother will be permitted entry into their country as a biological child/children of the couple commissioning surrogate.

The foreign couple will also have to furnish an undertaking that they would take care of the child/children born through surrogacy and the treatment should be done only at one of the registration Assisted Reproductive Technology clinics recognised by Indian Council of Medical Research.

The surrogate motherhood is very popular in Gujarat with Ahmedabad-Anand belt hospital taking it as medical tourism industry. But the sad part of the womanhood is that the mothers who bring joy to the families come from poverty-ridden background and at the end of the procedure, slip into poverty. The rate for each child is Rs 3 lakh to Rs 2 lakh and this forces many woman to go for three to four pregnancies.

The Centre for Social Research, which has produced a study 'Surrogacy Motherhood: Ethical or Commercial', has been asking for ban surrogacy. Its findings reveal a sorry state of affairs.

The women are kept confined and away from their families, if a baby is born with a defect the mother is not paid and birth defects are common in IVF babies; and some husbands do not give payment of contract to the woman, reducing them to begging.

The women activists are also appalled by the language of the surrogate contracts. The contracts say that if the mother is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, she will be ''sustained with life-support equipment to protect the foetus' and ensure a healthy birth of a baby. And nothing more. There is always no mention of women's health and treatment. This is a cruel joke on the motherhood.

It is a big industry with over 1000 clinics spread over the country and allied helpers like recruiting agents to find surrogates, lawyers for surrogacy contracts, hostels for the surrogates and hotels for the commissioning parents.

It remains to be seen how the government puts its machinery into act to regulate such an industry.

OneIndia News (With agencies inputs)

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