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Surrogacy bill 2019

Date: 06 February 2020 Tags: Bills & Laws

Issue

A surrogate mother need not be a “close relative”, was recommended by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee on Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019, which also advocated omission of the five-year time limit before seeking surrogacy.

 

Background

This is among the 15 major changes suggested by the 23-member committee that presented its report in the Rajya Sabha.

 

Details

  • The other major changes recommended by the Committee include — allowing single women (widow or a divorcee and Persons of Indian Origin) to avail of surrogacy, and increasing insurance cover for the surrogate mother from the 16 months proposed in the Bill to 36 months.

  • The committee stated that the requirement of surrogate mother to be a “close relative” potentially restricts the availability of surrogate mothers, affecting genuinely needy persons.

  • The other major recommendation concerns deleting the definition of “infertility” as “the inability to conceive after five years of unprotected intercourse” on grounds that it was too long a period for a couple to wait for a child.

  • In order to protect the interests of the child born through surrogacy, the Committee recommended that the order regarding the parentage and custody of the child, issued by a Magistrate, shall be the birth affidavit for the surrogate child.

  • The Select Committee said that the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill (ART), which is awaiting Cabinet approval, may be taken up before the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill.

  • The ART Bill primarily deals with technical, scientific and medical aspects, including the storage of embryos, gametes, oocytes, etc. as contained in the Surrogacy Bill.

Provisions of Surrogacy Bill 2019

  • The Bill prohibits commercial surrogacy, but allows altruistic surrogacy.  Altruistic surrogacy involves no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expenses and insurance coverage during the pregnancy.

  • Surrogacy is permitted when it is: (i) for intending couples who suffer from proven infertility; (ii) altruistic; (iii) not for commercial purposes; (iv) not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation; and (v) 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.

  • The certificate of eligibility to the intending couple is issued upon fulfilment of the following conditions: (i) the couple being Indian citizens and married for at least five years; (ii) between 23 to 50 years old (wife) and 26 to 55 years old (husband); (iii) they do not have any surviving child (biological, adopted or surrogate); this would not include a child who is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from life threatening disorder or fatal illness; and (iv) other conditions that may be specified by regulations.

  • The central and state governments shall appoint one or more appropriate authorities within 90 days of the Bill becoming an Act.  The functions of the appropriate authority include; (i) granting, suspending or cancelling registration of surrogacy clinics; (ii) enforcing standards for surrogacy clinics; (iii) investigating and taking action against breach of the provisions of the Bill; (iv) recommending modifications to the rules and regulations.

  • The central and the state governments shall constitute the National Surrogacy Board (NSB) and the State Surrogacy Boards (SSB), respectively.  Functions of the NSB include, (i) advising the central government on policy matters relating to surrogacy; (ii) laying down the code of conduct of surrogacy clinics; and (iii) supervising the functioning of SSBs.

  • A child born out of a surrogacy procedure will be deemed to be the biological child of the intending couple.  An abortion of the surrogate child requires the written consent of the surrogate mother and the authorisation of the appropriate authority.  Further, the surrogate mother will have an option to withdraw from surrogacy before the embryo is implanted in her womb.

  • The offences under the Bill include: (i) undertaking or advertising commercial surrogacy; (ii) exploiting the surrogate mother; (iii) abandoning, exploiting or disowning a surrogate child; and (iv) selling or importing human embryo or gametes for surrogacy.  The penalty for such offences is imprisonment up to 10 years and a fine up to 10 lakh rupees.  The Bill specifies a range of offences and penalties for other contraventions of the provisions of the Bill.

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