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What is Modi govt’s new Surrogacy Bill all about?

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New Delhi, Aug 06: The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019, which seeks to ban commercial surrogacy and allows only close relatives of infertile couples to volunteer for "ethical altruistic" reasons.

The Union Cabinet had introduced the bill in July. This was passed by the 16th Lok Sabha, but lapsed after the dissolution of the House.

What is Modi govt’s new Surrogacy Bill all about?

The Bill defines surrogacy as a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple with the intention to hand over the child after the birth to the intending couple. The bill also aims to constitute surrogacy boards at the national and state levels.

Article 370 out, next step would be delimitation

The Bill prohibits commercial surrogacy, but allows altruistic surrogacy, within the age group of 23-50 and 26-55 years for females and males, respectively. Altruistic surrogacy involves no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expenses and insurance coverage during the pregnancy. Commercial surrogacy includes surrogacy or its related procedures undertaken for a monetary benefit or reward (in cash or kind) exceeding the basic medical expenses and insurance coverage.

A woman should be allowed to act as a surrogate mother only once, must be aged 25-35 years, and a close relative of the couple, besides being a married woman with a child of her own, according to the bill. It also ensures that there will be no exchange of money between the relative who volunteers for being a surrogate mother and the couple.

Only Indian couples who have been married for at least five years will be allowed to opt for surrogacy, according to the provisions of the bill. Couples who intend to opt for surrogacy should not abandon such children under any condition.

Surrogacy is permitted only when it is:

  • for intending couples who suffer from proven infertility;
  • altruistic;
  • not for commercial purposes;
  • not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation; and
  • for any condition or disease specified through regulations.

The intending couple should have a 'certificate of essentiality' and a 'certificate of eligibility' issued by the appropriate authority.

Eligibility criteria for surrogate mother:

  1. To obtain a certificate of eligibility from the appropriate authority, the surrogate mother has to be:
  2. (i) a close relative of the intending couple;
  3. (ii) a married woman having a child of her own;
  4. (iii) 25 to 35 years old;
  5. (iv) a surrogate only once in her lifetime; and
  6. (v) possess a certificate of medical and psychological fitness for surrogacy.

Further, the surrogate mother cannot provide her own gametes for surrogacy.

What is surrogacy?

Surrogacy is an arrangement, often supported by a legal agreement, whereby a woman agrees to become pregnant and give birth to a child for another person who is or will become the parent of the child.

There are two types currently used - 'traditional' and 'gestational'. Traditional surrogacy is done via Artificial Insemination (AI), with the surrogate using her own egg and another man's sperm. Gestational surrogacy is done via IVF, where fertilized eggs from another woman are implanted into the surrogate's uterus. Gestational surrogacy is more popular because it gives the intending couple a chance to raise a child that is genetically completely their own.

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