The parliamentary select committee set up to look into the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 will travel to Anand, Hyderabad and Mumbai from January 21-24 as part of deliberations on the shape of the Bill. Anand, a town in Gujarat, has a large number of commercial surrogates, while Mumbai and Hyderabad also have many clinics on the cutting edge of fertility medicine.
A member of the committee told The Hindu that the committee is deeply engaged with the question of whether or not single parent surrogacy be allowed. The Bill in itself asks for a couple to have been married for at least five years and proven infertility, as possible applicants for surrogacy. “But there are many children brought up by single parent families who do well, so why deny singles? The committee is engaged with that question,” said the source.
The committee will also look at the technology and the ethical gap to be bridged in terms of its use. While the Bill currently seeks to ban commercial surrogacy, even altruistic surrogacy can become problematic without a nuanced definition of “close relative”. “There are things that are moral and immoral, but also extra-moral, that is, technology by itself is shorn of morality, but it can be used for moral and immoral purposes, family dynamics in many cases can lead to undue pressure on less powerful members of the family being forced to be surrogates etc., so the definition and regulatory framework has to be nuanced,” said the panel member.
While commercial surrogacy is banned under the Bill, the committee will study just such arrangements during the Anand visit. When the Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha during the last Parliament session, several amendments, including removal of the necessity of the clause asking that only married couples, that too with at least five years of marriage, be allowed for surrogacy. The committee members say they are determined to make it a more up to date law, compatible with the times.