A surrogate mother need not be a “close relative” recommended the Rajya Sabha Select Committee on Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019, which also advocated omission of the five-year time limit before seeking surrogacy.
This is among the 15 major changes suggested by the 23-member committee that presented its report in the Upper House on Wednesday. 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.
Stating that requiring the surrogate mother to be a “close relative” potentially restricts the availability of surrogate mothers, affecting genuinely needy persons, the Committee has recommended the removal of this requirement from the Bill. “A willing woman shall act as surrogate mother and be permitted to undergo surrogacy procedures as per the provisions of this Act,” it said.
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.
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 is yet to be passed by the Rajya Sabha and the committee has held ten meetings since the Bill was referred to it by the Lok Sabha on November 21, 2019.
Chairman of the Committee Bhupender Yadav presented the report on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, 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.
‘Take up ART first’
As a general recommendation, 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, since 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.