The Rajya Sabha passed two Bills to regulate and supervise assisted reproductive technology clinics and surrogacy on Wednesday.
The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2021 was passed by the Lok Sabha on December 1. It was passed by a voice vote in the Upper House.
Amid sloganeering by the Opposition members who are protesting against the suspension of 12 members, the House also passed The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020 with amendments. The proposed Bill was earlier passed by the Lok Sabha but the Rajya Sabha had referred it to a Select Committee. It will now go back to the Lok Sabha for approval.
Replying to a discussion on both the Bills taken up together, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said most of the recommendations of the Select Committee have been included in the surrogacy Bill.
Both the Bills seek to curb unethical practices related to issues like sex selection and exploitation of surrogate mothers. The provisions include both monetary penalty and jail terms for violations.
Opposing the Bill, Ajit Kumar Bhuyan (Congress) said, “The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020, with its proposal to ban commercial surrogacy is yet another example of how out-of-touch with ground realities our lawmakers are…..It puts a complete ban on commercial surrogacy and allows only ‘ethical’, altruistic surrogacy by virtue of being non-commercial, altruistic surrogacy presumed to be ‘ethical’. .... In the name of regulating surrogacy to curb the exploitation of surrogates and of children born through surrogacy, what this Bill, in fact, does is curtail the rights of women surrogates. ..Here, the basic but flawed assumption is that by removing the ‘commercial’ component, exploitation will be curbed.”
Mr. Mandaviya said the Bill has a provision to impose ₹8 lakh-₹20 lakh penalty and eight-year-imprisonment if a woman has become a surrogate more than once.
The Bill related to surrogacy aims to constitute a National Surrogacy Board, State Surrogacy Boards and appointment of appropriate authorities for regulation of the practice and process of surrogacy.
The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2021 is for the regulation and supervision of the assisted reproductive technology clinics and the assisted reproductive technology banks, and prevention of misuse.