The minister of health and family welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan had introduced the ‘The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019’ in Lok Sabha on 15th July 2019. This is the first time that the country gets a legal definition for surrogacy. The Bill defines surrogacy as, “a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple with the intention to hand over the child after the birth to the intending couple.” It is moral and social harmony legislation that intends to protect the exploitation of surrogate mothers and includes in its perils, the rights of the child born through this procedure
The Bill was under review by the Select Committee. The committee submitted its report on the 5th of February 2020 in Rajya Sabha.
The Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill 2020 is one of the most recent legislations by the Union Cabinet to safeguard the reproductive rights of a woman. It makes regulations for the ethical practice of assisted reproductive technology and the safety of the parties involved in it. It also provides for the establishment of various boards at various levels to supervise and regulate clinics and assisted reproductive technology banks. The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020 is ancillary legislation to it and proposes to regulate surrogacy in India. It establishes National Board at the central level and State Boards and Appropriate Authorities in the States and Union Territories.
Key Highlights of The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020
The key benefits of The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020 are:
- It prescribes the eligibility criteria for surrogate mothers. The surrogate mother has to fulfil the prescribed conditions and has to obtain the certificate from the appropriate authority.
- The central government shall appoint appropriate authority. The functions of this authority shall include granting license to surrogate mothers and surrogacy clinics, making regulations and standards at the local level, and investigating the breach of such provisions.
- Establishment of National and State Surrogacy Boards. The central and state governments shall establish surrogacy boards that shall advice the government on regulations related to surrogacy and lay down a code of conduct for surrogacy clinics.
- Parentage and abortion of the surrogate child. The child born through surrogacy shall be held to be the biological child of the intending couple. Any abortion of such a pregnancy shall require the written consent of the surrogate mother and appropriate authority.
The most significant benefit of the Act is that it shall regulate the surrogacy service in the country. It completely bans the practice of commercial surrogacy. Ethical surrogacy to the Indian Married couple, Indian Origin Married Couple, and Indian Single Woman (only widow or Divorcee) will be allowed when they meet the prescribed certain conditions.
It can be said that it will be instrumental in controlling unethical surrogacy, and aid in the prevention of commercialization of surrogacy. It will also protect surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy from potential exploitation.