The government on Tuesday introduced the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 in the Rajya Sabha, with Health Minister Harsh Vardhan terming it a “game-changer” as it aims at regulating surrogacy in the country for the first time.
The Bill, which has been passed by the Lok Sabha, makes “altruistic surrogacy” legal and commercial surrogacy illegal, the Minister said, while introducing the legislation.
“In the absence of regulation, India has unfortunately emerged as the surrogacy hub for couples from different countries. As per a recent study, there are 3,000 illegal clinics and 2,000 foreign babies are born every year,” he said.
He said the Bill had been sent to a Parliamentary Standing Committee that had given 42 recommendations, of which 13 had been accepted. Among those rejected were the legalisation of “compensatory surrogacy”; extending the benefits to persons of Indian origin and overseas citizens of India, unmarried couples, divorced women and widows; reducing the minimum time for a couple to be married from five years to one year to be eligible; and for the clause of a close relative being the surrogate to be removed.
Speaking during the discussion on the Bill, Congress MP M.V Rajeev Gowda said: “My concern is that the complicated rules and regulations that have been brought in make it practically impossible for surrogacy to be used effectively.”
He said there could be other medical reasons for a couple not being able to conceive, other than “proven infertility”, as the Bill states, like it being unsafe for the woman or premature menopause, etc.
BJP MP and former Union Minister said he welcomed the idea of the Bill protecting the rights of the surrogate child. However, the benefits of the Bill should not be restricted to a couple of Indian citizens, he said.